Monthly Archives: April 2008

Indirect or reported questions

A student the other day made a series of mistakes in his writing, things like:

  • My father asked me what sport will I like…
  • I wanted to know will you go out with me…

What is happening here is that the grammar of direct questions, the actual words someone would have said, is being mixed in with a report structure.

The father in the first example would have said “What sport will/do you like?” The second example would have been “Will you go out with me?”

But when you report a question, things change. First, word order changes. Second, question words often disappear. Third, word order changes. Fourth, tense changes to suit the time frame of the report.

So our examples would become:

  • My father asked me what sport I would like…
  • I wanted to know if you would go out with me…

Reported questions are more common in rather formal registers, but they do quite frequently occur in narrative, partly for variety, and partly for focussing the narrative viewpoint in a certain way. 

Many of the rules are just the same as in Indirect or Reported Speech.


Indirect questions (British Council)

Questions in reported speech

Reported questions

Quiz on Indirect Questions


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Welcome to the Sydney English Student Blog

Here is a new blog designed, it seems, for the many overseas students here in Sydney:

The blog is written by English teachers, for English students. Here you will find everything you need to know about accommodation, work, schools, technology, English resources… Everything you need to live and study in Sydney, written in clear, simple English – you can practice your English as you learn about Sydney.

     Some features that you might like to explore on the blog are:

  • Translate – if your English is not so good, choose a flag above to translate the site.
  • English Resources – links to GOOD English resources online to help with your study.
  • Ask a Question – if you have any questions you want answered, pleases leave a message. Every week 1 question will be answered.
  • Entertainment – a list of things to do in Sydney (bands, galleries, concerts etc.), mostly FREE.
  • Subscribe – stay up to date with the blog by subscribing (click the FEEDBURNER button).
  • Share – share this site with friends on Facebook, Digg, Mixx and Stumbleupon.
  • Games – play games between classes, some English games, some just for FUN.
  • More to come…

It has only just started, but already there is some useful material there.


Posted by on April 13, 2008 in esl for students, student help


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