Could you tell me what the difference nominal WH clause and nominal relative clause is ? For example, nominal WH clause : no one knows what caused the accident. Nominal Relative clause: You call him whatever you want. How can I distinguish between the two. Another thing is the function of this sentence : [What I need most is a good rest] S. So , does the whole sentence function as a subject. That's what I have read. Thank you

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    I don't understand your example "WH: no one knows the accident". This seems to be a formula of some sort rather than an example. – Greg Lee Jan 9 '16 at 17:57
  • I hope I made it clearer. – user11223 Jan 9 '16 at 18:52
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    Sorry, user11223, you're still not making sense. Part of the problem is that No one knows the accident doesn't make much sense: I can just about imagine some context where it might, but without context, I don't know what it means. Your mention of "nominal WH clause" makes me guess that you are assuming that "the accident" is a transform of a WH clause like what the accident [something], but I can't think of a [something] that might be implied by No one knows the accident. – Colin Fine Jan 9 '16 at 19:33
  • You're apparently asking about free relatives; and you're interested in the difference between "who" and "whoever"? Is that what you're after? – user6726 Jan 9 '16 at 19:42
  • I am asking about the difference between a WH clause and a relative clause? – user11223 Jan 9 '16 at 19:44

In "You call him whatever you want" the "whatever you want" is a noun phrase consisting of a relative clause -- there is no noun head. Similarly, in "What I need most is a good rest" the subject noun phrase "what I need most" is a relative clause with no head noun.

However, in "No one knows what caused the accident", there is no relative clause. Instead, "what caused the accident" is an indirect question. "What caused the accident? Nobody knows."

  • I can notice a small diferrence now. Could you classify these sentences please? 1- We are to accept unconditionally what proposal you are willing to make .2- Here is where you will find her at this time of night. – user11223 Jan 9 '16 at 22:12
  • I'd better not try -- I find the distinction difficult, and I might make a mistake. Do searches on "free relatives" and "embedded or indirect questions" and you should get some good information. – Greg Lee Jan 10 '16 at 1:18

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