Indirect Questions

One of the first things we learn in English is how to ask direct questions in the different tenses. But lots of English learners make mistakes with indirect questions.

To ask direct questions, we need to use an auxiliary verb.

For example:
  • The children played in the park. --> Did the children play in the park?
  • Anna eats a lot of vegetables. --> Does Anna eat a lot of vegetables?

But this is not the only way to ask questions. When we want to be more polite, for example, we often use phrases to introduce our questions, such as:
  • Could you tell me...
  • I was wondering if you know...
  • Can you please tell me...
  • Do you know...
These are indirect questions. When we ask questions this way, we do not use an auxiliary verb!

For example:
  • CORRECT: Could you tell me where the classroom is?
    INCORRECT: Could you tell me where is the classroom?
  • CORRECT: Do you know when Greg arrived?
    INCORRECT: Do you know when did Greg arrive?
It is incorrect to use an auxiliary verb in these indirect questions. Visit the page on direct and indirect questions for more examples. Be sure to review this common mistake so you feel really comfortable asking indirect questions in English!