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  1. #1
    forinfo is offline Newbie
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    Default Is this an indirect question?

    Hello,

    I wonder if the following is an example of an indirect question where the order of the subject and predicate doesn't get reversed like a direct question.

    Ex. "He told me about what the most useful books were."

    Thank you for your help in advance.

  2. #2
    naomimalan is offline Member
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    Default Re: Is this an indirect question?

    Quote Originally Posted by forinfo View Post
    Hello,

    I wonder if the following is an example of an indirect question where the order of the subject and predicate doesn't get reversed like a direct question.

    Ex. "He told me about what the most useful books were."

    Thank you for your help in advance.
    Yes, what the most useful books were is an indirect question. In indirect questions you have normal word order.

  3. #3
    Harry Smith's Avatar
    Harry Smith is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Is this an indirect question?

    Quote Originally Posted by forinfo View Post
    Hello,

    I wonder if the following is an example of an indirect question where the order of the subject and predicate doesn't get reversed like a direct question.

    Ex. "He told me about what the most useful books were."

    Thank you for your help in advance.
    It is the question "What are the most useful books" in reported (indirect) speech.
    As far as I know indirect question is this " Do you know what the most useful books are? or "Did you know what the most useful books were?

  4. #4
    Clark is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Is this an indirect question?

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Smith View Post
    It is the question "What are the most useful books" in reported (indirect) speech.
    As far as I know indirect question is this " Do you know what the most useful books are? or "Did you know what the most useful books were?
    An indirect question can be built into a sentence of any communicative type - a statement, a question or an imperative.
    1) I want to know what the matter is.
    2) Do you know what the matter is?
    3) Tell me what the matter is.

  5. #5
    2006 is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Is this an indirect question?

    Quote Originally Posted by forinfo View Post
    Hello,

    I wonder if the following is an example of an indirect question where the order of the subject and predicate doesn't get reversed like a direct question.

    Ex. "He told me about what the most useful books were."

    Thank you for your help in advance.
    This isn't a question; there is no information being (indirectly) sought.

  6. #6
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this an indirect question?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    This isn't a question; there is no information being (indirectly) sought.
    I agree. I'm surprised at how many respondents have overlooked the fact that there isn't a question (either explicit or implied) here.

  7. #7
    Clark is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Is this an indirect question?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I agree. I'm surprised at how many respondents have overlooked the fact that there isn't a question (either explicit or implied) here.
    Structurally, the basis of the subordinate clause is a question, so, I believe, we deal with an indirect question here. We can't make it dependent on the lexical meaning of the verb in the reporting clause. It would be absurd to suggest that 'He asked me what the matter was' contains an indirect question and 'He told me what the matter was' does not.

  8. #8
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this an indirect question?

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    It would be absurd to suggest that 'He asked me what the matter was' contains an indirect question and 'He told me what the matter was' does not.
    I think you're confused, Clark.
    I can't see the absurdity. Is it also absurd to claim that "Is your name Jack?" is a question and "Your name is Jack" is not?
    Are you claiming that both "I asked her if she'd marry me" and "She said she would marry me" are both indirect questions, and that it's absurd to differentiate between them? My view is that the first is a question, and second is a reply (and furthermore, not a question).

    There are plenty of good websites that explain what indirect questions are and why "He told me what the matter was" is not a question of any sort.

  9. #9
    Clark is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Is this an indirect question?

    Raymott, you consider the whole complex sentence as an indirect question: He asked what the matter was. In my opinion it's only the reported clause 'what that matter was' that should be labelled as an indirect question.

    I think you understand indirect questions in a rather straightforward way: What's the matter? (direct) - He asked me what the matter was. (indirect).
    The original question (What's the matter?) can have various realizations in reported speech:
    I didn't know what the matter was.
    I couldn't see what the matter was.
    He told me what the matter was.
    etc.
    All these sentences give different reports on 'what the matter was'. They all contain this question as a topic in their semantic structure.

  10. #10
    Harry Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is this an indirect question?

    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    Raymott, you consider the whole complex sentence as an indirect question: He asked what the matter was. In my opinion it's only the reported clause 'what that matter was' that should be labelled as an indirect question.

    I think you understand indirect questions in a rather straightforward way: What's the matter? (direct) - He asked me what the matter was. (indirect).
    The original question (What's the matter?) can have various realizations in reported speech:
    I didn't know what the matter was.
    I couldn't see what the matter was.
    He told me what the matter was.
    etc.
    All these sentences give different reports on 'what the matter was'. They all contain this question as a topic in their semantic structure.
    I think you mix the indirect questions with the questions used in reported speech.

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