1.1 TIME FOR A CHAT: direct and indirect questions

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Question English
Answer English

What does 'strategy' mean? Have you finished yet?
Question word: what; auxiliary verb: does; subject; strategy; main verb; mean. Auxiliary verb: have; subject; you; main verb: finished.
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The word order for most questions is: (question word) + auxiliary verb + subject + main verb

What happened next?
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Subject questions: when the question word is the subject of the sentence, use the affirmative form of the verb.

What are you working on? What was Thailand like?
(Here 'like' is a preposition and the question is asking for a description)
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Prepositions in questions usually come at the end.

In which newspaper did you read it?
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In very formal English, prepositions can come at the beginning.

I'm going out tonight. Where to? Who with? I didn't go to the party. How come? Why not? I hate spicy food. Why's that? Such as? Can you lend me a paintbrush? Which one? What for?
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Short questions, often ending in prepositions, are common in conversation

Could you tell me what time the lesson starts. Do you mind me asking why you left your last job?
the lesson starts. you left your last job.
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Use indirect questions to ask questions in a more polite way or for very personal questions.
After the opening phrase, use the affirmative form.

Do you know if Mike's married?
Mike's married.
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In yes / no questions, use if or whether + the affirmative form.

Other opening phrases include:
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Can I ask...? Do you have any idea...? Would you mind telling me...? What / Why / Where / Who do you think? I was wondering, I wonder, I'd be interested to know, I'd like to know, I want to know.

I wonder where Derek is. How do you think he did that?
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Only use a question mark if the introductory phrase contains a question.

When a question is very personal, start with
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Can I ask a personal question?

Where / have / been?
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Where have you been? At a meeting.

Who / be / you / with?
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Who were you with? Just people from the office.

What / meeting / like?
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What was the meeting like? Oh, you know. Long.

you / know / what time / now?
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Do you know what time it is now? Um... is it late?

Can / ask / why / you / not / phone?
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Can I ask why you didn't phone? My mobile was dead.

you / have / any idea / how / worried / I / be?
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Do you have any idea how worried I was/I've been?

if / you / here / credit / they / know / Do / cards / accept?
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Do you know if they accept credit cards here?

me / you / model / mind / how / a / you / asking / became / Do?
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Do you mind me asking how you became a model?

you / coffee / any / at / idea / this / where / time / I / can / get / have / a / Do?
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Do you have any idea where I can get a coffee at this time?

you / me / computer / Would / telling / the / available / mind / when / becomes?
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Would you mind telling me when the computer becomes available?

get / if / married / you're / Can / planning / I to/ ask?
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Can I ask if you're planning to get married?

was / I / briefcase / that / bought / you / where / wondering.
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I was wondering where you bought that briefcase.

I can't meet you tonight. No? How (1)?
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I can't meet you tonight. No? How come?

Because I'm going out. Where (2)?
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Because I'm going out. Where to?

To the Theatre. Who (3)?
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To the Theatre. Who with?

Nobody you know. The tickets were very expensive. How (4)?
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Nobody you know. The tickets were very expensive. How much?

I'm not telling. I'll get home late. What (5)?
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I'm not telling. I'll get home late. What time?

After midnight. You shouldn't ask so many questions. Why (6)?
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After midnight. You shouldn't ask so many questions. Why not?

Direct questions are the “normal” questions that we can ask friends, family members, and people who we know well. Indirect questions are a little more formal and politer. We use them when talking to a person we don’t know very well, or in professional situations, and their form is a little different. Whether we use direct and indirect questions depends on the situation, who we are talking to and what we are talking about. We tend to use direct questions with people we know well, in more informal situations and / or when the topic is not ‘sensitive’. Indirect questions are often used when talking to someone we don’t know well, in formal / professional situations, and / or where the topic might be ‘sensitive When you ask a direct question, like "What time is the meeting?" you're being quite informal, some might even say abrupt, or even rude. You can make it more polite by adding please, "What time is the meeting, please?", but to be even more polite we rephrase it into an indirect question; "Do you know what time the meeting is?", or "Could you tell me what time the meeting is?" and if you want to be really OTT "Could you tell me what time the meeting is, please?" Indirect questions differ from other types of indirect speech in both their construction and some of their uses, and they can as a result be problematic in both areas. Here are some of the most common phrases used for asking indirect questions.

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