General Writing and Grammar Help/interrogative adjective

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Question
Dear Ted,

Can an “interrogative adjective” be used in a sentence that does not ask a question?

For example, can you please tell me if the word “what” is an interrogative adjective in the following sentence:

“I know what books you will need.”


Thank you very much for your help.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich:

Can an “interrogative adjective” be used in a sentence that does not ask a
question?

For example, can you please tell me if the word “what” is an interrogative
adjective in the following sentence:

“I know what books you will need.”

*** You have partially answered your own question.  If NO question is asked in the sentence, then there is NO interrogative adjective.

Let's parse your sentence:

I = subject
know = verb

You have begun with "I know."  But that sentence really doesn't make sense.  You need to tell WHAT you know.  In other words, you need a DIRECT OBJECT of the verb KNOW.

I + know + what

The remaining five words constitute a clause.  You can rearrange the words to get a better perspective:  you will need what books.

So, the direct object of the verb "know" is the complete dependent clause that begins with
"what."  "What" is a relative pronoun, and it RELATES the dependent clause to the independent clause.

I + know + direct object

direct object = what books you will need

subject = you

verb phrase = will need

direct object of the verb phrase = books

relative pronoun, connecting the two clauses

Here is a lengthy explanation:

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/645/01/

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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