Direct and Indirect Questions
Questions that you ask friends, family and those you know well on a normal basis are considered direct questions.
Example of a direct question:
“How do we get to your house?”
Questions that are more polite and formal are referred to as indirect questions. If we are talking to someone we don’t know as well, we often use these types of questions.
Example of an indirect question:
“Could you tell me where your house is?”
Phrases for Indirect Questions
Could you tell me…
Do you know…
I was wondering…
Do you have any idea…
I’d like to know…
Would it be possible…
Is there any chance…
Direct: Where is Bob Evans?
Indirect: Could you tell me where Bob Evans is?
In indirect questions with is/are, the verb (is) comes after the subject (Bob Evans).
Direct: What time does the doctor’s office open?
Indirect: Do you know what time the doctor’s office opens?
With indirect questions, we aren’t going to use auxiliary verbs like do/does/did. You can also see that the direct question uses the verb open, whereas, the indirect question uses the verb opens.
Direct: Where is the best place to eat lunch?
Indirect: I was wondering where the best place for lunch is.
Once again, there isn’t an auxiliary verb do/does/did in the indirect question. Essentially, there isn’t even a question in the indirect question. It is actually more of a statement inviting the other party to provide more information on the subject.
Direct: How has Jami managed to move up the ranks so quickly?
Indirect: Do you have any idea how Jami has managed to move up the ranks so quickly?
Have and has auxiliary verbs can be used in both indirect and direct questions. However, in direct questions, has will come before the subject, while it comes after the subject in the indirect question.
Direct: How much does she spend on groceries?
Indirect: I’d like to know how much she spends on groceries.
By removing does and change “spend” to “spends.”, you can form an indirect question.
Direct: Can you complete the article by Monday?
Indirect: Would it be possible for you to complete the article by Monday?
When direct questions use can, we are able to implement the phrase “would it be possible…” to formulate an indirect question.
Direct: Can we move the doctor’s appointment to Friday?
Indirect: Is there any chance we could move the doctor’s appointment to Friday?
“Is there any chance…” is another alternative to help with forming an indirect question with can.
Converting Yes/No Direct Questions Into Indirect
If you have a direct question that is a “yes or no” question, it won’t have any question words like who, when, what, where, how or why, and the indirect question will have the word if in it.
Direct: Does Samantha work on Monday?
Indirect: Do you know if Samantha works on Monday?
Direct: Are Sandy and Matt coming to the movie?
Indirect: Could you tell me if Sandy and Matt are coming to the movie?
Direct: Do they have a dog?
Indirect: I was wondering if they have a dog.
Direct: Has Jenny ever went to Paris?
Indirect: Do you have any idea if Jenny has ever went to Paris?
Direct: Do you plan on going to Mackinaw in July?
Indirect: I’d like to know if you plan on going to Mackinaw in July.