Is the את at the beginning of the question necessary? Does it change the meaning?
The verb needs it for the direct object, which in the question is "what".
Thanks. So את מה היא מסדרת means "What [specific thing] is she organizing," but just plain מה היא מסדרת would mean "What does she organize [in general]"?
The second example you gave is not technically correct. A few examples:
את מה היא מסדרת? - What is she tidying up?
היא מסדרת את החדר. - She's tidying up the room.
So, מה replaces חדר (or whatever direct object) in the question.
The verb demands use of את to mark its direct object, so it's still there in the question. Not all verbs do, but לסדר does.
I should point, out as a non native speaker, that I've certainly heard plenty of times where I would expect the use of את with a certain verb, and it's left out. Real language is ever evolving.
I disagree, and hold with Elana's previous distinction.
Noting, though, that we're discussing the more common use, and the two can also switch around.
oh... I guess I did leave out the part that using 'את' is only with a direct object that is "definite", i.e. with the. If you were tidying up "a" room, you DEFINITELY would not ever use את.
Definitely take what I say with a grain of salt, I I still only have a partial picture of the language.
Thanks @NaftasliFri1 for the clarification and pointing out that Elana's distinction does actually make sense.
Ah -- so the verb לסדר always requires a direct object. I too have heard it used improperly and that's what threw me. Thanks -- have a lingot!
I'm pretty sure "את מה היא מסדרת", taken out of context like this, can also mean "what is she mending?" or "what is she fixing?".
P.S. I know that this is a BETA version and that's exactly why I'm giving these suggestions.
It can mean that, but not out of context. "Mending" or "fixing" is better translated as מתקנת. Here, מסדרת is "organizing" in the sense of "putting something in order", not in the sense of "producing an event", for which we use מארגנת.
There is some inconsistency with the use of את at the beginning of a sentence. Here it is necessary, but in a seemingly syntactically indentical sentence "מה אני מפספסת?" it was not. Can someone explain it? :<
The אֶת before מַה is always optional, but maybe its use would trigger an answer consisting of a definite noun: Compare מָה אַתָּה בּוֹנֶה? אֲנִי בּוֹנֶה גְשָׁרִים What do you build? I build bridges (generally) with אֶת מָה אַתַּה בּוֹנֶה? אֲנִי בּוֹנֶה גֶּ֫שֶׁם שַׁ֫עַר־הַזָּהָב בְּסַן פְרַנְסִ֫יסְקוֹ What are you building? I am building the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (just now specifically). But this usage is propable quite fuzzy.