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29 Aug 2021 — What Phrase


What are some options for completing this "what phrase"?


Taliban in Kabul Aug. 2021

What we are trying to find out is were there any casualties?


Read all the options.


What we are trying to find out is were there any casualties?


Were there any casualties is what we are trying to find out.


What we are trying to find out is if there were any casualties.


We are trying to find out if there were any casualties.



  • casualties (N) – people hurt or killed in a battle or accident
  • what (pronoun) – that + which ("a fused head"); What he said was nonsense. That which he said was nonsense. The things which he said were nonsense.
  • what phrase – in grammar, a noun phrase; [what + relative clause]; that [pronoun] + which [relative pronoun] + we are trying to find out [relative clause]
  • if / whether (subordinators) – A subordinator (marker) if or whether marks subordinated content (information). Subordinating a clause with if or whether allows us to package information, a yes/no question, into the subject or complement ("object") position of the main clause. 
  • impact (N) – an effect (in this case an emotional effect)
  • rhetorical devices – stylistic speaking which includes repetition of sounds or word patterns, parallel wording, provocative statements, emphasis and more. See Rhetorical Device
  • rhetorical question – a question asked in order to create a dramatic effect or to make a point rather than to get an answer.
  • subordinate (V) – in grammar, move to a lower level (an element within a clause). For example, a phrase or clause can function within the main clause as the subject or an object (verbal complement). See Subordinators and Subordinate Clauses.


  • Huddleston, Rodney D. and Geoffrey K. Pullum. "Degree as a kind of quantification." The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge UP, 2002. Ch. 16 §9.3.
  • Murphy, Raymond. English Grammar in Use. 5th ed., Cambridge UP. 2019. Unit 93D.