Reporting questions and rules

When we report what people say, we usually change the tense of the verbs to reflect that we are reporting – not giving direct speech. This pattern is followed when we report questions and there are also other important changes between direct questions and reported questions.

Yes/no questions


  • Direct question: “Do you like ice cream?” Reported question: He asked if I liked ice cream.

When we report yes/no questions we use ‘if’ or ‘whether’.

  • Direct question: “Did you enjoy the movie?” Reported question: She asked me whether I’d enjoyed the movie.

The tense of the verb changes as it does in reported speech but we don’t use auxiliary verbs. The word order is the same as in an affirmative sentence.

Questions with a question word


  • Direct question: “What time does the train leave?” Reported question: He asked what time the train left.

When there is a question word (what, where, why, who, when, how) we use that question word in the reported question but there is no auxiliary verb and the word order is like an affirmative sentence.

Look at some more examples:

  • Direct question: “Where did you go to school?”
  • Reported question: He asked me where I’d gone to school.

Notice that the reported questions do not have a question mark at the end.

Indirect questions

Similar to reported questions are indirect questions.

  • Can you tell me what time the train leavesNOT Can you tell me what time does the train leave?
  • I’d love to know what he said to herNOT I’d love to know what did he say to her.
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