Unit 10.1

Indirect Questions

Syntax - 2 minutes

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Introduction

Indirect questions are used in formal situations where we may need to ask something from someone we don’t know well.

Form

In a sentence we find indirect question phrase before the wh-question word.

The structure is:
Indirect Question phrase + Wh- question word + affirmative clause + …?

The most commonly used indirect question phrases are: Can you tell me…?, Could you…?, Do you know…?, I was wondering…?, Would it be possible…?…

NOTE: When the question includes the auxiliary verbs To Have and To Be, they come after the subject. In additon, with indirect questions we usually use modal verbs to request something.

Example

  1. Can you tell me what time the next train will come?
  2. Could you please tell me where the hospital is?
  3. Do you know how he has managed to fix the car?
  4. I was wondering if you would like to go out to eat with me tomorrow?
  5. Would it be possible to wait until tomorrow?

Use

By using indirect questions, we avoid direct questions.

We use indirect questions in formal contexts, such as professional situations, to request something in a more polite way.

Summary

Indirect questions are used in formal situations where we may need to ask something from someone we don’t know well or to request something in a more polite way.

We start with the indirect question phrase followed by the wh-question word and an affirmative clause (the sentence ends with a question mark).

The most commonly used indirect question phrases are: Can you tell me…?, Could you…?, Do you know…?, I was wondering…?, Would it be possible…?…

For example:
— “Do you know what her name is?
♦ What‘s her name?” = When we use a wh-question without the indirect question phrases, the question is informal and not very polite.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

Exercise

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