Indirect Questions

The indirect question is really not a question at all. In a direct question, we put the auxiliary verb before the subject. If there is no auxiliary verb, we put do before the subject.

Read the following sentences.

  • They have arrived. (Statement)
  • Have they arrived? (Direct question)
  • It is cold. (Statement)
  • Is it cold? (Direct question)
  • She promised to come. (Statement) (No auxiliary verb, so we have to use a form of do in the corresponding question.)
  • Did she promise to come? (Direct question)

In an indirect question, the auxiliary verb does not come before the subject; nor does it use the auxiliary do.

Read the following sentences.

  • Why don’t you listen to me? (Direct question)
  • I wonder why you don’t listen to me. (Indirect question)
  • Where are you going? (Direct question)
  • I would like to know where you are going. (Indirect question)
  • When does he propose to start? (Direct question)
  • I want to know when he proposes to start. (Indirect question)

We do not use question marks after an indirect question. Indirect questions cannot stand alone. They are always used as part of a bigger sentence.


Turn the following direct questions into indirect using the introductory clauses given.

1. (I would like to know) ‘What are your plans?’

2. (He wants to know) ‘Why do the French eat frogs’

3. (I wonder) ‘Why don’t you listen to me?’

4. (I still can’t figure out) ‘What does she want?’

5. (Can you tell me whether) ‘Is that true?’


1. I would like to know what your plans are.

2. He wants to know why the French eat frogs.

3. I wonder why you don’t listen to me.

4. I still can’t figure out what she wants.

5. Can you tell me whether that is true? (This sentence is itself a question. So we use a question mark after it.)

Note: You can use your own introductory clauses. But be sure that the sentence makes sense.

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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