4

In a sentence like this:

Many people realize that they didn't do any wrongdoings, so they cannot understand why they have to be punished.

or

Many ..., so they cannot understand why do they have to be punished.*

Which sentence is right?

I know in an independent question like "Why do you fight?" we cannot omit the "do". But in a clause like the example I gave above, may I omit the "do"?

6

SHORT ANSWER:
You must omit it.

LONG ANSWER:
Wh- words like who or when or how or why require inversion and DO-support only when the clauses they head are formal questions. When these words head a relative clause or a dependent clause, the remainder of the clause follows normal order.

He has to be punished [implied: because X].
I do not understand. Why does he have to be punished? ... Why ‘replaces’ the implicit because X and moves to the head. Why does he have to be punished? is an ordinary question and requires both Do-support and inversion to get an auxiliary verb into second place.
I do not understand why he has to be punished. ... Again, Why replaces because X and moves to the head. Why he has to be punished is a dependent clause, the object of understand, so the remainder of the clause follows in ordinary order.
The man who has to be punished is innocent! ... Who replaces he; as the subject of the relative clause it is already in first position; the remainder of the clause follows in ordinary order.

I have to punish him.
I do not understand. Who do you have to punish? ... Who replaces him and moves to the head. Who do you have to punish? is an ordinary question and requires inversion and Do-support to get an auxiliary verb into second place.
I do not understand who you have to punish. ... Who replaces him and moves to the head. Who you have to punish is a dependent clause, so after the movement the remainder follows in ordinary order.
The man who you have to punish is innocent! ... Who replaces him and moves to the head. Who you have to punish is a relative clause, so after the movement the remainder follows in ordinary order.

Note that have in the construction have to is a lexical verb, not an auxiliary; accordingly it requires DO-support in questions. If you replace have to with the modal auxiliary must, DO-support is not required.

I must punish him.
I do not understand. Who must you punish?
I do not understand who you must punish.
The man who you must punish is innocent!


Strict formal usage requires whom.

3
  • I am very glad that you gave a very detailed answer to me, which is very helpful. Thanks a lot, Stoney. – Bryce May 20 '13 at 10:40
  • Huddleston and Pullum say that for some speakers, "Have I to sign for both forms?" (meaning "Do I have to sign both forms?") is acceptable. They lump this have in with the have of possession, calling it "static have", saying it's lexical for most speakers but auxiliary for some (particularly older BrE speakers). The have that is always auxiliary they label "perfect have", while the have that is always lexical (as in to have a fit) they label "dynamic have". – snailplane Sep 29 '13 at 18:10
  • @snailboat I think Profs H & P are correct in making the distinction; but I think it's a fossil from older usage, under which HAVE was always permitted to act syntactically like an auxiliary, without DO support (Have you any treacle?), regardless of its function. BE of course is always required to act like an auxiliary. – StoneyB on hiatus Sep 29 '13 at 18:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.