Explanations » B1+ Grammar Explanations » Indirect questions

Indirect questions

Infographic illustrating the structure of direct and indirect questions in English grammar with examples, displayed on a bright, color-coded chart.

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We normally use indirect questions when we want to be more polite. We begin the question with expressions such as “Can you tell me …?”, “Could you tell me …?”, “Do you know …?”, or “Would you mind telling me …?”

  • What time is it? (direct question)
  • Could you tell me what time it is? (indirect question)

In indirect questions, the order is subject + verb.

  • Do you know where can I find a bank? blank
  • Do you know where I can find a bank? blank
  • Can you tell me what time do the shops close? blank
  • Can you tell me what time the shops closeblank

These are some other common expressions used before indirect questions:

  • I don’t know what he is doing here. 
  • I wonder when he will find the truth.
  • I’m not sure when I can come. 
  • I’d like to know where you left the documents. 

For yes-no questions (when there is NO question word), we can use both if or whether:

  • Do you know if/whether he’ll be here soon?