Structures: indirect questions


Questions can be difficult to construct correctly because they require modifications to the word order. Also, the word order can change depending on the type of question. There are two main types of questions: direct and indirect.

  • Where is the library? (direct)
  • Can you tell me where the library is? (indirect)

Indirect questions

We often use this question structure in formal situations or when we are speaking to someone we don't know, e.g. a shop assistant. In this structure, the word order inversion follows different fules, sometiems the auxiliary is removed and in some situations is necessary to add 'if'.

direct question indirect question Note
Can he play golf? Do you know if he can play golf? No inversion
Where does he live? Can you tell me where he lives? remove 'do' auxiliary'
Is it free to enter? Do you know if it is free to enter? Add 'if'
Further learning
Description Author Language
Examples of different types of indirect questions and how to construct them. Espresso English