Is the inversion in “Let’s see ʜᴏᴡ ᴄᴀɴ ᴡᴇ do this” an error for “Let’s see ʜᴏᴡ ᴡᴇ ᴄᴀɴ do this”?

I’m reading about the C++ Boost library, and the following sentence from Boost.ORG drew my attention:

Once the two steps have been successfully completed, the process can
start writing to and reading from the address space to send to and
receive data from other processes. Now, let’s see how can we do this
using Boost.Interprocess.

I assume the sentence in bold should be written as let’s see how we can do this.

Has the original sentence been mistakenly written by somehow (like perhaps by a non-native speaker, for example), or was this reversed order intended to emphasize something?


You are right. The correct sentence would be

Now let’s see how we can do this.

The incorrect form you’ve read demonstrates a fairly common English mistake among non-native speakers, especially those whose native language allows for omission of the subject pronoun (such as the Romance languages).

The confusion arises from three points:

  • In a question, the word order would be “can we”, whereas in a sentence or noun phrase, the order would be “we can”, so the speaker/writer must remember which order to use in which case. It is an easy mistake to make as a non-native speaker.
  • This noun phrase (the object of the verb “see”), includes the word “how”, which is a question word. This can cause some confusion unless the speaker/writer takes a moment to consider that this is, in fact, not a question.
  • In some languages, the subject pronoun “we” would not be used explicitly in either the question or statement form. Example (Spanish, no special characters):

    ..donde podemos encontrar el perro… (“where we can find the dog”)
    ¿Donde podemos encontrar el perro? (“Where can we find the dog?”)

    where the only difference is that one is written as a question.

Source : Link , Question Author : Terry Li , Answer Author : yoozer8

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