What is an Indirect Question

What is an Indirect Question? Asking indirect questions to be polite.

by Dec 30, 2019English Grammar Tips, English Time Ask Elo

What is an Indirect Question

English Grammar Rules, Explanation, and Examples

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What is an Indirect Question

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What is an Indirect Question

What is an Indirect Question

How to ask questions politely using could, would and may Indirect questions (or embedded questions) – for when you need to be polite

 

 

 

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What is an Indirect Question

What is an Indirect Question? Asking indirect questions to be polite.

Asked by @ Maria De Los Angeles Gato Lopez (Community English Student)

What is an Indirect Question

Answered by @ Elo Kasia

Elo Kasia is the English Mentor for  What is an Indirect QuestionEnglish Grammar and Speaking Academy” ,  Join now.

English Grammar
What is an Indirect Question  @ Thank you for your question, Maria De Los Angeles Gato Lopez.

What is an Indirect Question  As usual, I will try to explain the difference using simple language and plenty of examples.

 

 

What is an Indirect Question    

 

 

1.  What is an Indirect Question?

2.  How to form questions in English (direct “normal” questions)?

3.  How to form indirect questions in English?

4. Indirect questions with Wh-question words

 

What is an Indirect Question

What is an Indirect Question? Asking indirect questions to be polite.

 

 

What is an Indirect Question

 

Daily grammar lesson with Elo Kasia. What is an Indirect Question? Asking indirect questions to be polite.

 

 

It is very important to sound polite is English and there are many different ways of doing so. English has many rules about what is considered formal, informal, rude and polite.

Basically, there are three types of questions used in English: direct, indirect and question tags. Using indirect questions is an especially polite and formal way of asking questions, especially when talking to people we do not know or addressing somebody in a formal context.
However, students often find them a little confusing because of their complicated structure and word order.

 

 

 

What is an Indirect Question  What is an Indirect Question?

 

 

They begin with a phrase, such as

 

  • Do you know … ?
  • I wonder / was wondering ….
  • I wonder if you could…?
  • Do you think, you could…?
  • Can/ could you tell me …?
  • Do you happen to know …?
  • I have no idea …?
  • I’m not sure …
  • I’d like to know …

 

The difficult part of asking an indirect question is the fact that the second part is in the positive form rather than a question form.

 

 

 

What is an Indirect Question   How to form questions in English (direct “normal” questions)?

 

 

1. Use a “helping verb” to ask a question, so for example:

  • You speak English. – “Do you speak English?” (“do” is the helping verb here )
  • They went to the cinema last night. – “Did they go to the cinema last night” (“did” is the helping verb here).

 

2. With other tenses, you also use inversion (change the order of subject and verb), so for example:

  • He has been to Canada. – Has he been to Canada? (“he has” changes to “has he”)
  • They are watching TV. – Are they watching TV? (“they are” changes to “are they”)

 

In indirect questions, after the introductory phrase we need to use the “positive form”, so in simple tenses, we “drop” the “helping verbs”(do, did) and in other tenses we do not use inversion.

 

Remember that in English we can either ask a yes / no question which starts with a verb (do you, did they, has he, are they) or ask for information (what did you, where has he, etc.).

 

So, let us, first of all, see how yes / no questions change when they are introduced by one of the phrases above. The two parts of such questions are joined by “if” or “whether” to make an indirect question.

 

 

What is an Indirect Question  How to form indirect questions in English?

 

 

1. Introductory Phrase + If / Whether + TO BE in positive form

 

  • Direct question: “Is there a pharmacy near here?” –> Indirect question: Could you tell me if there is a pharmacy near here?
  • Are you allowed to smoke here? –> Excuse me, do you happen to know if you are allowed to smoke here?
  • Are they at the meeting? –> I wonder if you could tell whether they are at the meeting.
  • Was he at home last night?–> Do you know if he was at home last night?

 

 

2. Indirect yes/no questions with Present Simple and Past Simple (drop “do”, “does” or “did”)

 

Introductory Phrase + If / Whether + Subject + Main Verb

 

  • Does this bus go to the city centre? –> Could you tell me if this bus goes to the city centre? (remember to add -s for the third person!)
  • Does this train leave shortly? –>  Do you know if this train leaves shortly?
  • Do students pay a reduced price? –> was wondering if students pay a reduced price?
  • Did everybody arrive on time for the presentation? –> Do you happen to know whether everybody arrived on time for the presentation?(remember to change the verb into the past tense)
  • Did he go to work yesterday? I’d like to know if he went to work yesterday. ( remember to change the verb into the past tense, pay extra attention to irregular verbs – go – went)

 

 

3. Indirect yes/no questions with other tenses (no inversion)

 

Introductory Phrase + If / Whether + Subject + (Helping Verb) + Main Verb

 

Present Continuous:
Are they talking on the phone now? –> Do you know if they are talking on the phone now?
Past Continuous:
Were you working on the project when I called? –> Could you tell me if you were working on the project when I arrived?
Present Perfect:
Has he been to Japan? –> Do you happen to know whether he has been to Japan?
Future Simple:
Will he respond to you when he’s back? –> Do you know if he will respond to you when he is back?

 

What is an Indirect Question  Indirect questions with Wh-question words

 

These indirect questions look very similar, the only difference is that you keep the question word (no need for “if” or “whether” since the question word is already there.)

 

1. Verb TO BE: Introductory Phrase + question word+ TO BE in positive form

 

  • Direct question: Where is the nearest bus stop? –> Indirect question: Do you know where the nearest bus stop is?
  • When is the next show? –> Could you tell me when the next show is?
  • What is this building? –> I was wondering what this building is.
  • Where were they when you called? –> I’d like to know where they were when you called.

 

2. Present Simple and Past Simple (drop”do”, “does” or “did”)

Introductory Phrase + question word+ Subject + Main Verb
  • When does the performance start? –> Could you tell me when the performance starts? (remember -s for present simple)
  • Where does this train stop? –> Do you know where this train stops?
  • What did they buy in the shop? –> I’d like to know what they bought in the shop. (past simple, remember the forms of irregular verbs)

 

3. Other tenses (no inversion)

 

Introductory Phrase + Question word+ Subject + (Helping Verb) + Main Verb

 

  • Who are they talking to? –> Do you know who they are talking to?
  • What were they working on when he called? –> Could you tell me what they were working on the when he called?
  • What awards has he won so far? –> Do you happen to know what awards he has won so far?
  • Where will they go if they get a visa? –> Could you tell me where they will go if they get a visa?
  • It takes a bit of practise to get fluency in asking indirect questions and it is definitely easier to do them “on paper” when you have time to think than when talking to someone, when you are more likely to make a mistake.
  • That is why it is crucial to practise with a variety of expressions, introductory phrases and tenses. Once you master these, you really are going to sound like a native.

 

 

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What is an Indirect Question Want to learn more about indirect question?

 

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What is an Indirect Question

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