2

The tag currently has 126 questions. Its description is:

This tag is for inquiries about the grammar, and phrasing of questions.

The tag has 18 questions. It currently has no tag wiki.

I believe that the two tags are exactly synonymous. What should be done?

  • I've created the synonym, but it has to be upvoted by others to become effective. I can't vote on my own proposal, and you need a certain amount of rep for the specific tag to vote. But if you're on this page you can probably upvote. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 28 '14 at 20:44
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A question is a request for information, which can be made in syntactically non-interrogative clauses:

I wonder what your name is.
I wonder whether you would close the door.
Tell me what your name is! though this gets close to a request for services/action

And we call these questions because of the intonation. However, these are two distinct concepts. An interrogative isn't always a question, and vice versa.

There's a distinction here between form and function.

The grammatical form that the clause takes determines a number of things, one of them being the grammatical mood - the interrogative is one of these, typically marked in English by things like subject-auxiliary inversion, for instance.

You have written a good answer
Have you written a good answer?

Intonation can play a part, but it's important to note that written language is not a representation of spoken language, and so if we mark a clause as interrogative with a declarative syntax, we're clearly coercing a reading that would not be made. It's an attempt to import features of spoken language into the writing.

You're studying.
You're studying?

The function that a sentence can perform is to ask a question - generally, by this, we mean a request for information (as distinct to a request for services, which we call imperatives (grammatically) or demands (functionally).

I wonder what your name is.

Even said with a declarative tone, it would be clear that I am asking for your name, if I said this in conversation.

Tell me what your name is!

Although this might be classed as an imperative (as it comes very close), it's really still asking for your name.

Interrogatives that aren't questions

Usually these are rhetorical.

It's a bit sunny, isn't it?

There's no doubt, there's no question - if it's a hot, clear day and I say this, then it's small talk and a comment on the temperature, not a request for information. (On the other hand, if it's a cold, cloudy night, someone check me for signs of stroke.)

Could you please close the door?

Here's something that's a request for services, rather than information. I'm not really asking you if you're capable of closing the door (although it's a common joke to take it as such). I'm asking you to do it.


tl;dr These are different, albeit related, concepts. Don't conflate them. Edit the tag wikis (Maybe.)

Question:

This tag is for questions about about requests for information.

Interogative:

This tag is for questions about the grammatical form.

  • But even though the interrogative can be used to ask an indirect question, it's still a question. I'm not sure I understand the distinction you're making. – ColleenV Oct 29 '14 at 3:11
  • Could you provide an example of an interrogative sentence that is not a question? – 200_success Oct 29 '14 at 14:22
  • @ColleenV Interrogative refers to the grammatical set of features that form a question, and is a grammatical mood. Question, on the other hand, is the function of the clause - that it asks for information. – jimsug Oct 29 '14 at 21:51
  • @200_success If we're sitting in a room with the window open with someone mowing the lawn outside and I say "wow, isn't it a bit noisy?" it's not a request for information - we can all hear it, it's not up for debate. It's a (very) indirect way of requesting services, namely that someone shuts the window. On the other hand, you can also say things like "How heavy is the rain?" (it's a bit more common here in Australia, I think) which is never meant as a request for information - it's a statement about the weather. (Similarly, "How hot/windy/cold/humid is it today?") – jimsug Oct 29 '14 at 21:55
  • 1
    OK, I think I understand what you're saying. On the other hand, while interrogative and questions aren't the same thing, isn't the distinction when searching for an answer too fine to be meaningful on ELL? I would agree that it might be important on ELU, but learners already face understanding obstacles that might make it difficult to find relevant questions. I'm not yet convinced that linking the two tags doesn't make sense, although I would support fixing the wiki for interrogative. – ColleenV Oct 29 '14 at 23:24
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    @ColleenV English has interrogative questions: "Are you awake yet?" and declarative questions: "You're awake already?" Questions are not by definition requests for information: "Could you pass me the salt?" is an interrogative question, but as a speech act it's a directive (= "Please pass me the salt"). – snailplane Oct 30 '14 at 17:44
  • @sailboat I hadn't thought of declarative questions. That is a solid reason in my opinion to not create the alias. We wouldn't make verb a synonym for present tense just because they're related, would we? – ColleenV Oct 30 '14 at 18:11
  • @snailboat I guess it depends on the definition of "question" :) I'm adopting the view that questions are requests for information, demands are requests for services ("Could you pass me the salt?") and hence that's why it's equivalent to the imperative "Please pass me the salt" – jimsug Oct 30 '14 at 21:42
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Option 2 - is the master

The two tags should be synonyms, with being the master and being an alias.

"Questions" is a friendlier term for language learners who may not be familiar with grammatical jargon.

  • you should delete this as a duplicate ;) – jimsug Oct 29 '14 at 1:34
  • @jimsug They aren't duplicate answers. You are supposed to vote for one of the proposals, or suggest an alternate course of action. – 200_success Oct 29 '14 at 2:05
  • It might be worth stating that explicitly in the answers. I read through them three times before it clicked :) – ColleenV Oct 29 '14 at 12:42
  • Oh yeah. I didn't realise. Tired eyes, my apologies. – jimsug Oct 29 '14 at 21:49
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Option 1 - is the master

The two tags should be synonyms, with being the master and being an alias.

"Interrogative", being the correct technical term, would result in a more rational tag system. It would be analogous to existing tags such as .

  • In my opinion, the more precise term should be the master. Language learners might actually be more familiar with it because they are currently studying grammar and it would be how many if not most of their teachers would refer to a question. – ColleenV Oct 28 '14 at 21:13
  • I've changed my opinion after thinking about some of the discussion - I don't think we should create the alias. – ColleenV Oct 30 '14 at 22:23

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