Directly asking questions about adjective complements


Can we ask some questions about adjective complements?

I was disappointed with your behaviour.(1)

Can we ask its question like

With what were you disappointed? (2)


What were you disappointed with? (3)

I am good at math and physics. (4)

Can we ask its question like?

At what areas are you good? (5)


What areas are you good at? (6)

Thanks in advance.


Posted 2018-06-08T21:11:03.140

Reputation: 593



In the first section (3) is idiomatic.

What were you disappointed with? (3)

In the second section

At what areas are you good? (5)

What areas are you good at? (6)

would be better as

Which subjects are you good at?

Which are your best subjects?

Weather Vane

Posted 2018-06-08T21:11:03.140

Reputation: 11 533

It seems that you didn't specify your opinion about (2) , what do you think about it? In my opinion, it is very formal but grammatically correct. – Jawel – 2018-06-08T22:51:44.763

I implied that (2) was inferior, though correct. It is stilted. – Weather Vane – 2018-06-08T22:53:03.960

Do you have any reason for that? – Jawel – 2018-06-08T22:54:34.323

Only because I am a native speaker. (2) is used sometimes, such as in the song "There's a hole in my bucket" where a line says "With what shall I mend it, dear Liza, dear Liza". – Weather Vane – 2018-06-08T22:57:37.620

I see. In terms of grammaticality, there is no problem but it doesn't sound natural. – Jawel – 2018-06-08T23:03:16.173

@Jawel Yes, it's grammatical, but pied-piping of prepositions is generally confined to formal style. 2 and 5 would therefore sound somewhat stilted (2 more than 5) in normal conversation. – None – 2018-06-09T00:24:56.670

(But, of course, 5 is again not very idiomatic for other reasons implied in the answer.) – None – 2018-06-09T00:31:57.827