An indirect question is when a question is ‘inside’ another question.
Take a simple scenario: we stop someone in the street and ask: “Where is the supermarket?” This is what we call a direct question.
However, let’s say that we begin with Can you tell me? or Do you know? Our original question is now ‘inside’ the new question: Can you tell me where the supermarket is?
You will see that the word order has now changed because technically the question is now Can you tell me? not Where is? This is what we call an indirect question.
|Word order in indirect questions|
|Word order in an indirect question is the same as in a normal statement sentence:
SUBJECT + VERB + …
|Direct question||Indirect question|
|Where can I buy ink for the printer?||Can you tell me where I can buy ink for the printer?
|Why do you want to work for our company?||He asked me why I wanted to work for their company.
|What is the number of the last invoice?||I’m calling to ask you what the number of the last invoice is.
|How much did it cost?||Do you know how much it costs?
|How did it happen?||Did she tell you how it happened?