Grammar Spot: Indirect Questions
- There are two types of questions, direct and indirect. We’re all familiar with the direct ones, as we use them every day: “How are you?”, “What would you like to do this weekend?” “Have you got any real beer in the house?” are some examples. They follow an “inverted” word order: unlike most sentences, the subject comes after the auxiliary verb, not before.
- However, indirect questions are a little trickier. They’re hidden inside normal sentences, or even other questions. Unlike direct questions, though, indirect ones do NOT invert the subject and auxiliary verb. For example:
I don’t know what she sees in him.
Jeff has forgotten what his mother told him to do today.
Could you tell me where I can find the supermarket?
- The underlined sections of these sentences are the indirect questions, and as you can see, the subjects always go before the verb. This may seem strange for native Romance-language speakers, but inverting the word order (saying, for example “I don’t know what sees she in him” instead) may confuse your listener, so be careful not to!
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