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Practice with the exercises:
Exercise 1

1. Indirect questions

Indirect questions are used to ask for information politely.
Can you tell me where Dr. Holt's surgery is?
Can you tell me if this bus goes to the centre?

2. Characteristics of indirect questions

  • Indirect questions are preceded by an introductory sentence. Some of these sentences may be:
    Could you tell me...? Do you know...?
    I was wondering... Do you have any idea...?
    I'd like to know… Do you happen to know…?
  • Indirect questions do not follow the same structure as direct questions:
    Verb tense Direct question Indirect question
    Question word + AuxiliarY verb + SuBJECT + MAIN VERB Question word + SuBjeCt + MAIN VERB
    Present to be Where is Mary? Do you have any idea where Mary is?
    Present simple What time does the film start? Do you happen to know what time the film starts?
    Present continuous Why is he working today? I'd like to know why Mike is working today.
    Past to be When was her daughter born? I was wondering when her daughter was born.
    Past simple How did you meet? I'd like to know how you met.
    Past continuous Who was she talking to? Do you happen to know who she was talking to?
    Present perfect How long have you known him? I was wondering how long you have known him.
    Past perfect How long had you had your car? I'd like to know how long you had had your car.
    Future will When will the meeting finish? Could you tell me when the meeting will finish?
    Future going to What is she going to do with her car? Do you know what she is going to do with her car?
    Future continuous What will you be wearing at the graduation? Do you know what you will be wearing at the graduation?
    Future perfect How will life have changed by 2100? I'd like to know how life will have changed by 2100.
    Modals When must we hand in the essay? Could you tell me when we must hand in the essay?
  • When a direct question has no question word, that is, it is a question whose answer is a yes or a no, the following structure is followed:
    If / whether + subject + main verb

    Direct question: Does the museum open on Mondays?

    Indirect question: Could you tell me if/whether the museum opens on Mondays?

    Could you tell me if this place is far from here?
    In this example, the original question would be Is this place far from here?
    I was wondering if you've read my report.
    In this example it would be Have you read my report?

    Like the questions introduced by a question word, the structure of this other type of question is also reversed.

    In present simple and past simple an auxiliary is used to ask a question, but this auxiliary is not used in affirmative sentences. So, in present simple, we have to remember to add the -S to the verb when the person is he / she / it. In past simple, the verb will be in past.

    Direct question:

    Where does Mary work?
    Why did you decide to move?

    Indirect question:

    Do you know where Mary works?
    I'd like to know why you decided to move.


Indirect questions help us to ask questions in a polite way.
With question word Question word + subject + main verb
Do you know what John is doing? Can you tell me where John lives?
Without question word If / whether + sujeto + verbo principal
Do you know if we need our passports? Would you mind telling me whether it's raining outside?