2

Person1: Why is he dressed up so funny?

Person2: I don't know, may be what is the case with him is that he is going to some fancy dress competition.

Is the second expression grammatically correct?

  • Is there a specific concern you have about the grammar? – Andrew Grimm Feb 3 '13 at 5:49
7

I'd change "may be" to "maybe".

It looks like you have two independent clauses joined by a comma. This is called a comma splice and is usually considered poor style. Personally, I'd write it as two sentences.

The phrase "what is the case with him is that" sounds awkward to me. I'm not sure it's ungrammatical, but it certainly sounds strange. I'd remove the phrase entirely.

Thus, I would write:

Person2: I don't know. Maybe he's going to some fancy dress competition.

Note that I changed "he is" to "he's". It wasn't wrong before, but I think it sounds a little less stilted this way.

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  • is this expression okay? I don’t know.What the case with him is that he is going to some fancy dress competition. – john mconore Feb 2 '13 at 13:58
  • @johnmconore I'm afraid not. Removing "maybe" makes it sound like you're stating a fact rather than a guess. This contradicts "I don't know", so it doesn't make sense. Instead of removing "maybe", I would remove the awkward clause ("What the case with him is that"). Doing so makes it sound more natural without changing the meaning of the sentence. – snailplane Feb 2 '13 at 14:50
  • 3
    What the case with him is isn't ungrammatical; it's just unnecessarily complicated, and sounds strange to at least this native speaker. The simple maybe example is what I'd say or expect. – barbara beeton Feb 2 '13 at 14:52
6

No, to be grammatical it would have to be:

I don't know. Maybe the case with him is that he is going to some fancy dress competition.

But no native speaker would even say that. What you would be likely to hear is something like:

I don't know. Perhaps he’s taking part in some fancy dress competition.

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3

Here are a couple of options using similar wording with more conventional spelling and word order:

I don’t know. What the case may be with him is that he is going to some fancy dress competition.

I don’t know. Maybe what the case is with him is that he is going to some fancy dress competition.

A native speaker would more likely say:

I don’t know. Maybe he is going to some fancy dress competition.

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  • Many thanks for your answer, are the expressions provided by you correct? the first two ones – john mconore Feb 2 '13 at 13:53
  • @johnmconore They are grammatically correct, meaning they follow the usual rules of English syntax, if that is what you are asking. – MetaEd Feb 2 '13 at 14:01
2

There's a couple of things with that sentence that aren't quite right. Let's go through them one at a time.

Firstly, as some other answers have noted, "may be" should be changed either to "it may be [that he is going to a fancy dress competition]" or "maybe [he is going to a fancy dress competition]".

Maybe what is the case with him is that he is going to a fancy dress party.

The second problem is that the clause "maybe what is the case with him" is an invalid construction. Based on standard English word ordering, the phrase would be "maybe the case with him is that [he is going to a fancy dress competition]".

Maybe the case with him is that he is going to a fancy dress party.

In practice, native English speakers tend only to use the phrase "the case with [X]" in entirely hypothetical situations, such as "In the case that I saw a man in a chicken suit, I might assume that he was on his way to a fancy dress party". It's not common for native English speakers to use "the case" in concrete answers, preferring "Perhaps" instead.

Perhaps he is going to some fancy dress competition.

For example, "Maybe the case with him is that he's been ill for a week" would instead be phrased "Perhaps he's been ill for a week" by a native speaker.

Putting these together, we come up with a better sentence:

I don't know. Perhaps he is going to some fancy dress competition.

Finally, and this is a stylistic point, "some" is usually discouraged for countable nouns. More normally one would say:

I don't know. Perhaps he is going to a fancy dress competition.

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