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Indirect Questions (#1), by Dennis Oliver

 

 Indirect Questions (#1)

 

"Normal" yes / no and information ("Wh'") questions follow
the word-order rules presented in recent Hints. There are
other English question forms that follow different rules,
however. They're called indirect questions.

There are two types of indirect questions. One occurs in
reported (indirect) speech--when one person tells what
another person has said.

Three things happen in reported-speech questions:

1.   The word order is like statement word order,
not like "normal" question word order.
     
2.   The verb tense in the question may be changed
(if the main verb in the sentence is a past tense).
     
3.   Verbs like "asked" are used to introduce reported
(indirect) questions.

 

Examples:

He said, "Where's Bob?" --->
He asked where Bob was.

Did he ask, "Where's Bob?" --->
Did he ask where Bob was?.

He said, "Where does Bob live?" --->
He asked where Bob lived.

Did he say, "Where does Bob live?" --->
Did he ask where Bob lived?

He said, "Where has Bob gone?" --->
He asked where Bob had gone.

Did he say, "Where has Bob gone?" --->
Did he ask where Bob had gone?

He said, "How long has Bob been away?" --->
He asked how long Bob had been away.

Did he say, "How long has Bob been away?" --->
Did he ask how long Bob had been away?

He said, "Is Bob at home?"--->
He asked if Bob was at home.

Did he say, "Is Bob at home?"--->
Did he ask if Bob was at home?

He said, "Have they seen Bob?"--->
He asked if they had seen Bob.

Did he say, "Have they seen Bob?"--->
Did he ask if they had seen Bob?

He said, "Will Bob be at home soon?"--->
He asked if Bob would be at home soon.

Did he say, "Will Bob be at home soon?"--->
Did he ask if Bob would be at home soon?

He said, "Can someone give Bob a message for me?"--->
He asked if someone could give Bob a message from him.

 

____________________________________________

 

Special Notes:

 

1.  

Notice that the questions inside statements
and questions above do not use normal
word order for questions. Instead, they use
the word order for statements:

this:

not this:

 

He asked where Bob was.

*He asked where was Bob.

     

this:

not this:

 

He asked where Bob lived.

*He asked where did Bob live.

     

this:


not this:

 

He asked how long Bob had
been away.

*He asked how long had Bob
been away.

     
2.  

Notice the change in verb tenses when the
main verb is past:

He said, "Where's (is) Bob?" --->
He asked where Bob was.

He said, "Where does Bob live?" --->
He asked where Bob lived.

He said, "Will Bob be at home soon?"--->
He asked if Bob would be at home soon.

When the tense in the reported question (or
statement) is present, it's sometimes confusing
to change the tense. When this happens, the
present-tense verb (in the reported question or
statement) is often not changed:

He said, "Where's (is) Bob?" --->
He asked where Bob is.

He said, "Where does Bob live?" --->
He asked where Bob lives.

He said, "How old is Bob?" --->
He asked how old Bob is.

He said, "How's (is) Bob doing?" --->
He asked how Bob is doing.

     
3.  

Notice that for reported yes / no questions,
if is used to introduce the question. Reported
yes / no questions may also be introduced by
whether (or not):

He said, "Is Bob at home?"--->
He asked if Bob was at home. /
He asked whether Bob was at home. /
He asked whether or not Bob was at home. /
He asked whether Bob was at home or not

He said, "Will Bob be at home soon?"--->
He asked if Bob would be at home soon. /
He asked whether Bob would be at home soon. /
He asked whether or not Bob would be at
home soon. /
He asked whether Bob would be at home soon
or not.

     
4.  

There may also be other changes in reported
questions. One common change is with pronouns:

He said, "Do you know Bob?" --->
He asked if I knew (know) Bob. /
He asked if we knew (know) Bob.

He said, "Does Bob get along with you?" --->
He asked if Bob was (is) friendly with me. /
He asked if if Bob was (is) friendly with us.

     
5.  

Notice that a question mark ( ? ) is not used if
the main sentence is not a question:

this:

not this:

 

He asked where Bob was.

*He asked where Bob was?.

     

this:

not this:

 

He asked where Bob lived.

*He asked where Bob lived?

     

this:


not this:

 

He asked how long Bob had
been away.

*He asked how long Bob had
been away?

Questions using the forms shown in the "not this"
examples, above, are often heard in everyday
conversation, but they actually mean questions:

He asked where Bob was? = Did he ask where
Bob was?

He asked where Bob lived? = Did he ask where
Bob lived?

He asked how long Bob had been away? =
Did he ask how long Bob had been away?

 

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