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Grammar Lessons: Embedded Questions

How to Make Embedded Questions

Definition

An embedded question is a part of a sentence that would be a question if it were on its own, but is not a question in the context of the sentence:

There are two types of embedded or indirect questions:

  • Embedded Questions within Questions
  • Embedded Questions within Statements

For example:

  1. I don’t know where she has gone.
  2. Could you tell me where the bank is?
  3. Can you tell me where the gas station is?
  4. We need to know where you live
  5. Do you know what type of clothes they were wearing?
  6. Can you remember where the movie theater is?

Common Introductory Phrases 

These are some common introductory phrases for embedded questions

Introductory PhrasesExample
I wonder if…I wonder if you could help me out
Could you tell me …?Could you tell me where the station is?
Do you know …?Do you know how to ride a bike?
Can you remember…?Can you remember where you left it?
We need to know…We need to know where you are
I am not sureI am not sure where you were last night
Can you tell me…?Can you tell me where he lives?

Direct Questions vs Indirect Questions

Here we can see several examples of direct questions and indirect questions.

Direct QuestionsIndirect Questions
What time is it?Can you tell me what time it is?
Where is she?Could you tell me where she is?
What’s her name?Do you know what her name is?
Who is a doctor?I wonder who is a doctor
What is she doing?I wonder what she is doing
Can she win?Can you tell me whether or not she can swim?

Indirect Questions

These are examples of how direct questions change into indirect questions.

TenseDirect QuestionIndirect Question
Verb to beWhere is she?Do you know where she is?
Simple PresentWhere does he work?Can you tell me where he works?
Verb to be Was he sick?Do you know if he was sick?
Simple pastWhat did he win?Could you tell me what he won?
Present PerfectWhere have you been?Can you tell me where you have been?
Future ContinuousAre you going to play Can you tell me if you are going to play
Future with willWill she be there?Could you tell me if she will be there?
Modal ShouldShould we start now?Do you know if we should start now?

Indirect Questions and Contractions

Do not use a verbal contraction at the end of the sentence when you make embedded or indirect questions.

For example:

Where is she?Do you know where she is?
who are they?Can you tell me who they are?
What’s her name?Could you tell me where her name is?
How tall are they?Could you tell me how tall they are?

Whether and If in Indirect Questions

These are some examples that show how whether and If are used in indirect questions

Direct QuestionIndirect Question
Are you tired?They asked me whether I was tired
Do the rooms have showers?They asked whether the rooms have howers or not
Are you sick?They asked if I was sick
Do the rooms have cable TV?They asked if the rooms have cable TV.
is the Doctor available?Could you tell me if the doctor is available?
Embedded Questions / Indirect Questions

Embedded Questions Exercises

These are some embedded questions exercise that can help you achieve your goals

  1. Embedded Questions Quiz
  2. Embedded Questions Quiz 
  3. Embedded Questions Exercises PDF
  4. Indirect Question Exercises PDF
  5. Indirect Questions  – Grammar Challenge PDF
  6. Embedded Questions Exercises and Test
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