Learn how to form Reported Questions in English with rules and examples.
When you are changing a question from direct speech into indirect speech, you follow the same kinds of rules as for statements. The only differences are that you need to use a different word to introduce the reported speech, and the word order of the question becomes like that of a statement. You end the sentence with a full stop, not a question mark.
To report a question, we use verbs such as: inquire, wonder, want to know, ask…
Only ask can take an indirect object.
Direct speech: “Have you got a computer?“
Reported speech: He wanted to know whether I had a computer.
How to Report Wh and Yes/No Questions
– We use “if” or “whether” to introduce a “yes‑no question”.
Direct speech: “Did you receive my e-mail?“
Reported speech: The teacher asked me if I had received his e-mail. OR The teacher asked me whether I had received his e-mail.
– You introduce questions where there is a choice in the same way ‑ more usually by using “whether” than by using “if“.
Direct speech: I asked, “Is it John’s phone or Richard’s?”
Reported speech: I asked whether it was John’s phone or Richard’s.
Questions Words (Wh- Questions)
– You introduce questions that begin with who, why, what, how, when, where… by using the word which begins the question in direct speech.
Direct speech: She asked, “Where did he stay?”
Reported speech: She asked me where he had stayed.
Direct speech: She asked, “When will you go back to London?“
Indirect speech: She asked when he would go back to London.
– You often mention the person who is being asked the question, by using a pronoun (him, her, them, etc.) or by mentioning their name.
I asked him if he ate meat.
She asked Michael when he would go back to Japan.
Notes for Reported Questions
In reporting questions:
– The tense of the verb changes as it does in reported speech but there is no auxiliary verb and the word order is like an affirmative sentence.
– We don’t use question marks in reporting questions except beginning with Could you tell me…?,
Do you know…?, May I ask…?, … (when we ask for information.)