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Why does changing the subordinate clause (can an indirect object be a subordinate clause?) to the present indicative from the passé composé change the position of the conjugated “faire” in this sentence?

3 Answers 3

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Subordinate clause doesn't have an impact on conjugation.

"Regarde ce que ce scientifique fait." or "Regarde ce que fait ce scientifique."

"Regarde ce que ce scientifique a fait." or "Regarde ce qu'a fait ce scientifique."

It's just a matter of order : subject + verb OR verb + subject

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It doesn't. The order is free.

Regarde ce que ce scientifique fait.
Regarde ce qu'a fait ce scientifique.

The inversion often sounds more "elegant".

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The same freedom of choice exists at least in Spanish which shows a very similar pattern:

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However, the order is mandatory if a pronoun is used:

Regarde ce qu'il fait.
Regarde ce que fait-il.

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  • That's very interesting, thank you. The versions in my original post seem a little more natural, at least to me. I suspect this is a pronunciation / ""how the sentence flows" issue then. I suppose my follow-up question is: why is this construction free?
    – user30966
    Jul 23, 2022 at 13:49
  • Because nothing forbids it ;-)
    – jlliagre
    Jul 23, 2022 at 14:48
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Okay, this has continued to bother me and I finally discovered why this construction is "free."

I grew up around French speakers so I generally know what "sounds" correct, even if I don't know why (useful, but frustrating!).

This sentence is an example of "stylistic inversion." This has been driving me crazy. I was able to form other sentences where this inversion was possible and I realized that it must have something to do with the presence of a relative pronoun. (I owe this to Fréro Delavega and Kendji Girac and their love for phrases beginning with "quand viennent...")

Stylistic inversion can be used in 3 cases:

  1. After a relative pronoun / indefinite relative pronoun (my example)

  2. After a comparison

  3. To emphasize the subject, often used in poetry (Kendji and Fréro Delavega)

Extra reading for those who are curious:

https://www.lawlessfrench.com/grammar/inversion-with-nouns/

https://www.thoughtco.com/uses-of-french-inversion-4086442

https://www.jstor.org/stable/4178083

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  • You should have edited your question or better, asked a new question. This reply doesn't answer to the question asked but to a follow up question that only appeared in comments.
    – jlliagre
    Jul 27, 2022 at 0:22

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