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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > How to change direct question to indirect question?    

How to change direct question to indirect question?



jocel
Philippines

How to change direct question to indirect question?
 
Dear Colleagues,
 
Greetings!
 
I have little knowledge about the rules on transforming direct question to indirect questions (to be sound more polite).
 
Example:
     
          DIRECT: When did she leave?  =  INDIRECT:  Do you know when she left?
 
But how about if the sentence contains negative word? Like....
 
Why didn īt she tell she couldn īt go?
 
How will I transform this to indirect question? Could anybody help me please.
 
I am looking forward to hearing from you (soon Smile). Thank you so much in advance. Hug
 
 
Best Regards,
 
jocel

16 Sep 2011      



Apodo
Australia

Your original sentence should have been:   
Why didn īt she tell (object needed- somebody)   she couldn īt go?
 
Why didn īt she tell somebody she couldn īt go?
Do you know why she didn īt tell anybody she couldn īt go?
 
Why didn īt she tell me she couldn īt go?
Do you know why she didn īt tell me she couldn īt go?

16 Sep 2011     



jocel
Philippines

Hello Apodo
 
Thanks for the quick reply. I appreciate that so much!
 
But I īm wondering about the rule, it says if the direct question contains do, does or did, we omit it in the indirect question.
 
Examples:
 
          a.   Direct question:   What do you want?
              Indirect question:   Can you tell me what you want?

          b.   Direct question:   When did she leave?
              Indirect question:   Do you know when she left?
 
Is it exception to the rule? Is there any exceptions for the negatives?
 
Thanks again! Smile

16 Sep 2011     



PhilipR
Thailand

You don īt omit the īnegative do/did ī (or rather don īt/didn īt) in indirect questions.

Take the following:

Direct: What don īt you like?
Indirect: Could you tell me what you don īt like?

Direct: Why didn īt she call the police?
Indirect: Do you know why she didn īt call the police?

16 Sep 2011     



jocel
Philippines

Hello PhilipR
 
Thank you for the explanation. You helped me a lot. Now I am clear. Thank you so much. Clap
 
Thank you also Apodo. Both of you are great! Star
 
Now I īm confident in using the INDIRECT QUESTION. Wink
 
Best regards,
 
jocel

16 Sep 2011     



almaz
United Kingdom

I know that some instructors insist that an īindirect question ī is simply a politer way of asking something, but I īve always taught that indirect questions (sometimes called reported questions) do not end with a question mark. If it did, as in the examples above, it would obviously be a direct question, regardless of the level of politeness or indirectness.

To use Jocel īs example:

Direct question:   "What do you want?" she asked Tom.
Indirect question:   She asked Tom what he wanted.

With a negative:

Direct question:   "Why didn īt you go?" she asked Tom.
Indirect question:   She asked Tom why he hadn īt gone/didn īt go.

16 Sep 2011     



douglas
United States

Interesting topic!  There seem to be two schools of thought on what an "indirect question" is.  Some identify it as a question written in the "passive" form and others identify it as a question in the "reported speech" form.
 
My internet search didn īt help any, there doesnīt seem to be any consenses there either.
 
So, I don īt know what is meant by an "indirect question"--can anyone enlighten me? 
 
Thanks,
Douglas
 
EDIT:  The more I look, the more it seems that the "reported speech" form is the prefered meaning of "indirect question"--so what do we call the other form?
 
I kind of like this explanation:
 

16 Sep 2011     



almaz
United Kingdom

As you know, Douglas, if you īre at a loss as to the meaning of an expression, you can always check a dictionary. I īm looking at my Oxford Encyclopedic English Dictionary right now and it defines īindirect question ī quite simply as:

Gram. a question in reported speech (e.g. they asked who I was).

Checking one of the established online dictionaries is quite easy too:





And bear in mind that a lot of so-called īgrammar ī sites are nothing less than a collection of personal prejudices compounded by ineptly-transmitted īrules ī from school or college.

16 Sep 2011     



douglas
United States

Yeah Alex,
 
I saw those, but I am also one that puts a lot of value in "common usage". 
 
When I see BBC sites defining them both ways and so many sites where teachers are defining them both ways I have to start thinking that it may be time for the dictionaries to update their definitions. 
 
The "passive" defintion is simply too common to completely ignore.
 
Douglas 

16 Sep 2011     



Zora
Canada

Can I add that Reported Speech and Indirect Speech are just loathesome? I really dislike teaching them because I find that they are rather convoluted (often on purpuse) and can be a very unnatural way of expressing yourself at times.


16 Sep 2011