Direct and Indirect questions

The main types of question forms with examples. For B1 and above.


The structure depends on the type of question.

Question Word
Who, whose, what, where, when, why, how

Question word or wh- words that begin a direct question usually have the structure…

question word + aux + subject/+verb
how old are you?
where do you live?

Remember we use the verbs do, be, have as auxiliaries.

Subject = Question word
When the subject of the question is the question word we use the following structure.

question word + verb + object
What makes you happy?
Who said that?

If the answer to a question can only be yes or no then we use the aux and this structure.

aux + subj + verb
Do you like paella?
Have you eaten dinner?

We cannot use the auxillary DO in indirect questions. They can be divided into 2 clauses, the polite expression, and the question. The structure is…

expression + question word + subject + verb
– May I ask what time the film starts?

Would you tell me if/whether you like fish?
(not, do you like..)

Expressions include..
May I ask…
Would you tell me…
Can/could you tell me…
Would you mind telling me…

Here’s some examples…
How short is the book?
Would you tell me how short the book is?
Has she finished her exam?
May I ask if/whether she has finished her exam?