DIRECT AND INDIRECT QUESTIONS GENERAL USAGE A few months ago, a man at VUS said to me, “What is your name

.” I didn’t feel like he was asking me my name but ordering me to tell him my name as a man would order his dog to sit. Direct questions are often considered to be rude when speaking to strangers. Since that day I have gotten to know the man and he is actually very friendly; he just sounded rude because he used a direct question. There are two ways in which he could have sounded more polite. Firstly, he could have used intonation when asking his question. When intonation rises at the end of a question it can sound more polite than a question without intonation. In general, speaking with intonation makes you sound more polite, and interesting. Secondly, instead of using a direct question, he could have used an indirect question. This indirect question would have sounded much friendlier: “May I ask what your name is?” (Saying “Excuse me” would be even more polite; for example, “Excuse me. May I ask what your name is?”)

When using an indirect question, use an introductory phrase followed by the question itself in positive sentence structure. Connect the two phrases with the question word or “if” in the case the question is a “yes”, “no” question.

_______________________________________________________________________ ______________________ Here’s how to do it: Introductory phrase + question word (or if) + positive sentence. _______________________________________________________________________ _________________________


Where is Jack? I was wondering if you know where Jack is? (Jack is at the store)

or did. I have no idea . . ? Sometimes we use these phrases to indicate that we’d like some more information: I’m not sure . IS SUBJECT + VERB (EXAMPLE: YOUR NAME IS?) AND NOT VERB +SUBJECT ( IS YOUR NAME?) What are you looking at? Can you tell me what you are looking at? Here are some of the most common phrases used for asking indirect questions. ? Do you happen to know . Many of these phrases are used to make questions (i. we omit it in the indirect question. does. ? May I ask .. . . • What do you want? Can you tell me what you want? • When did she leave? . . . . . Do you know when the next train leaves?). . . If the direct question contains do. I wonder if he will be on time. . while others are statements made to indicate a question (i. . . I’d like to know ..• When does Alice usually arrive? Do you know when Alice usually arrives? (Alice usually arrives at ten. ? Can you tell me . . . I wonder/was wondering . ? Would you mind telling me . . Do you know .) PLEASE NOTE THAT THE STRUCTURE OF THE INDIRECT QUESTIONS AFTER THE INTRODUCTORY PHRASE. .e. .). . . . . .e.

Do you know when she left? • What time does the movie start? Do you happen to know what time the movie starts? .

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