In this lesson, we will focus on indirect questions in the English language.
A question is an interrogative expression often used to find out or confirmation information. There are a lot of different types of questions in English such as object, subject, duration, tag, negative, indirect, open, closed, etc… .
An indirect question is a grammatical structure in which two clauses are joined together to form a question. Indirect questions are used to express extreme politeness when asking someone who you do not know an interrogative question.
A direct question is considered to be very direct and informal. They are normal questions that we can ask friends, family members, and people who we know well.
An indirect question is considered to be more formal and polite. We normally ask people who we do not know or have a relationship with an indirect question.
There are several key clauses, which are used to ask indirect questions:
Do you know … ? Can you tell me … ? Could you tell me … ?
I would like to know …
There are three important grammatical changes between direct and indirect questions.
1. Word Order
When we start using an indirect question form, the word order in the second clause is the same as a positive statement, not a question.
|Direct:||What time is it?|
|Indirect:||Could you tell me (what) time it is?|
|Incorrect:||Could you tell me what time is it?|
2. Auxiliary Verbs (did, do, does)
If the direct question uses the auxiliary verb ‘do’ (i.e. does, did, do), it is left out of the indirect question.
|Direct:||Where does she live?|
|Indirect:||Do you know where she lives?|
|Incorrect:||Do you know where does she live?|
|Direct:||How many replacement parts do you need?|
|Indirect:|| I would like to know (how many) replacement parts |
|Incorrect:||I would like to know how many replacement parts do you need.|
3. ‘Yes’ or ‘No” responses
If the direct question can be answered with ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, the indirect question needs ‘if’ or‘whether.’
|Direct:||Does the manager attend the monthly meetings?|
|Indirect:||Do you know (whether) the manager attends the monthly meetings?|