Using indirect questions correctly

Indirect questions are not questions in the strict sense of the term. They don’t not have a question mark at the end.

In direct questions, the auxiliary verb goes before the subject.

  • Does he know what he is doing? (Here the auxiliary ‘does’ goes before the subject ‘he’.)
  • Will you help me? (Here the auxiliary ‘will’ goes before the subject ‘you’.)
  • In an indirect question, the auxiliary verb goes after the subject.

She asked me if I could help her. (NOT She asked me if could I help her?)

  • Tell me when you are going on holiday. (NOT Tell me when are you going on holiday.)
  • I wondered if she was all right.
  • Rahul asked if I wanted to watch the film.

Note that an indirect question cannot stand alone. It has to be attached to an independent clause with a conjunction like if, whether or when.

  • I don’t know whether I will have time. (Will I have time? I don’t know.)
  • I wondered if she was free. (Is she free? I wondered.)
  • Tell me what you are doing there. (NOT Tell me what are you doing there?)

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I'm Manjusha. This is my blog where I give IELTS preparation tips.

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