Another fun subject. In everyday English, we often hear statements that seem to be a little confusing. Strange grammar or words not known. Direct questions are rather simple to create. Indirect questions are a little more complicated but, easy to use with a little practice. Direct and Indirect questions are used when we don’t know the answer and need information. Indirect questions are more polite. It is common to start an indirect question with “Can” or “Do”. Remember that “Can” is often used with more urgency while “Could” is more polite. We often use “If” in our sentence as well. There are simple rules to follow. Below are examples. Ask your teacher to help explain the rules about this subject further!
“Direct and Indirect” Question Examples
Where is the bus station? (direct question)
Do you know where the bus station is? (indirect question)
Do you know if there is a bus station near here? (indirect question with do + if)
Can you tell me where the bus station is? (indirect question with can)
Can you tell me if there is a bus station near here? (indirect with can + do)
Could you tell me where the bus station is? (indirect more polite with could)
Could you tell me if there is a bus station near here? (more polite could + if)
Excuse me? Could you tell me where….? (very polite with excuse me)
Excuse me? Could you tell me if there is a…? (very polite with could + if)
Question words like “What, when, where, who, why and how” are used to ask questions at the earliest stages of study. As you study English at the higher levels, you will see how common indirect questions really are. Listen to native English speakers closely. Using indirect speech is considered more polite. However, this is not always true! In everyday spoken English, intonation is very important. We can infer feelings, directness, attitude, urgency and more with intonation. Ask your teacher to help you with this interesting subject!