Direct and Indirect Questions
Hi English learners! Welcome to a new grammar lesson. We are going to learn about direct and indirect questions in English.
The English teachers at My Lingua Academy are happy to help you improve your English. You can learn English for free with our blog posts where you will find loads of grammar and vocabulary lessons, as well as idioms, phrasal verbs and collocations.
What are direct questions?
Direct questions are ordinary questions we make by using inversion.
- What time is it?
- Where are you going?
- How long have you been working here?
- Do you speak any foreign languages?
What are indirect questions?
If we want to be more polite, we ask questions indirectly, by using an introductory phrase before the question.
- Do you know what time it is?
- I’d like to know where you are going.
- I was wondering how long you’ve been working here.
- Could you tell me if you speak any foreign languages?
You may notice that the word order in indirect questions is the same as in an affirmative sentence.
- How much does it cost?
- Can you tell me how much it costs?
Here are some introductory phrases you can use with indirect questions:
- Can/could you tell me…
- Do you (happen to) know…
- I’d like to know…
- I wonder/I am wondering…
- Is there any chance/possibility…
- Do you think…
- “Where is the post office?
- “Can you tell me where the post office is?
- “What time does the train arrive?
- “Do you happen to know what time the train arrives?”
- “How old is your son?”
- “I’d like to know how old your son is.”
- “How many people attended the meeting?”
- “I am wondering how many people attended the meeting”
- “Do you have this jacket in a smaller size?”
- “Is there any chance you have this jacket in a smaller size?”
- “Is it going to be cold tomorrow?”
- “Do you think it is going to be cold tomorrow?”
Indirect questions in yes/no questions
To form an indirect question for a yes/no question, we use “ïf” after an introductory phrase. Note that the word order in an indirect question is like in a statement.
|Verb tense||Direct question||Indirect question|
|Present Simple||Do they serve breakfast in this restaurant?||Do you know if they serve breakfast in this restaurant?|
|Present Continuous||Are you working tomorrow?||I wonder if you are working tomorrow.|
|Present Perfect||Have you read any interesting books lately?||Can you tell me if you have read any interesting books lately?|
|Present perfect Continuous||Have you been working here long?||Can you tell me if you have been working here long?|
|Past Simple||Did you watch the football match yesterday?||Could you tell me if you watched the football match yesterday?|
|Past Continuous||Were you doing homework at 7 o’clock yesterday?||I wonder if you were doing homework at 7 oçlock yesterday.|
|Past Perfect||Had you learned English before you came to England?||Can you tell me if you had learned English before you came to England?|
|Past Perfect Continuous||Had you been waiting long before the flight?||I wonder if you had been waiting long before the flight.|
|Future Simple||Will you visit us later?||Can you tell me if you will visit us later?|
|Future Continuous||Will you be working tomorrow afternoon?||Can you tell me if you will be working tomorrow afternoon?|
|Future perfect||Will it have stopped raining by 5 o’clock?||I wonder if it will have stopped raining by 5 o’clock.|
|Be going to||Are we going to see the sights at the weekend?||I’d like to know if we are going to see the sights at the weekend.|
Indirect questions in WH-questions
|Verb tense||Direct question||Indirect question|
|Present Simple||When do you usually have breakfast?||I’d like to know when you usually have breakfast.|
|Present Continuous||What are you studying?||I wonder what you are studying.|
|Present Perfect||Where have you put my phone?||Will you tell me where you have put my phone?|
|Present Perfect Continuous||How long have they been living there?||I wonder how long they have been living there.|
|Past Simple||When did you stop smoking?||Can you tell me when you stopped smoking?|
|Past Continuous||Where were you going when we met?||I’d like to know where you were going when we met.|
|Past Perfect||What time had you left home?||I wonder what time you had left home.|
|Past Perfect Continuous||Where had you been working before?||Can you tell me where you had been working before?|
|Future Simple||Who will you go with?||I wonder who you will go with.|
|Future Continuous||What will you be doing this time next week?||Do you know what you will be doing this time next week?|
|Future Perfect||When will you have finished the report?||I wonder when you will have finished the report.|
|Be going to||What are you going to wear at the party?||Can you tell me what you are going to wear at the party?|
Let me take your English to the next level. If you feel that you are not making much progress with your English or as quickly as your academic or professional requirements demand, how about trying my reasonably-priced one-to-one English lessons that I can tailor to whatever needs you may have like sitting forthcoming English certification exams, or taking part in business meetings with your international colleagues, or passing your job interview in English. Book an online English lesson with me or one of my fellow certified and experienced English teachers, and see for yourself. You won’t feel let down because we are going to make sure that you have a good run for the money you are investing in your linguistic education. Waste no time and take a trial test for only 1 euro.