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    #1

    Would you tell me how can I get to Times Square from here?

    Would you tell me how can I get to Times Square from here?
    ------------------------------------------------------------

    I know the grammar book would say it not very correct to put 'can ' ahead of 'I ' in this case.

    However, if I put it like this, would it be acceptable?

    Would you tell me: How can I get to Times Square from here?
    Is the pause a must between 'me' and 'how' when we say it ?

    Thank you.

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Would you tell me how can I get to Times Square from here?

    Quote Originally Posted by LiuJing View Post
    Would you tell me how can I get to Times Square from here?
    ------------------------------------------------------------

    I know the grammar book would say it not very correct to put 'can ' ahead of 'I ' in this case.

    However, if I put it like this, would it be acceptable?

    Would you tell me: How can I get to Times Square from here?
    Is the pause a must between 'me' and 'how' when we say it ?

    Thank you.
    It sounds OK to me, although the 'from here' is probably unnecessary - a 'from X' phrase is only necessary when you're not going from here: 'what's the best way from the Globe Theatre to the Houses of Parliament?' - the speaker wants the information for a future trip.

    There is one case where you would use 'from here' - if there's a new one-way system, or roadworks, or the obvious way is blocked for some other reason: 'How do I get to Times Square from here - now that I can't take that right turn?'

    b

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    #3

    Re: Would you tell me how can I get to Times Square from here?

    BobK, do you mean both are acceptable:

    Would you tell me how I can get to Time Square?
    Would you tell me how can I get to Time Square?

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Would you tell me how can I get to Times Square from here?

    Quote Originally Posted by LiuJing View Post
    Would you tell me how can I I can get to Times Square from here?
    ------------------------------------------------------------

    I know the grammar book would say it not very correct to put 'can ' ahead of 'I ' in this case.

    However, if I put it like this, would it be acceptable?

    Would you tell me: How can I get to Times Square from here?
    Is the pause a must between 'me' and 'how' when we say it ?

    Thank you.
    I would say that in this context, you could say "Can you tell me how to get to Times Square from here?" You don't know for certain if the person you are asking actually knows the way, so you are asking if them if they are able to tell you how to get there.

    "How can/do I get to Times Square from here?" is a perfectly acceptable alternative.

    As far as a pause between "me" and "how" is concerned, if you look at how I have amended your first question, you will see that no pause is required. If, however, you said "Would you tell me [this] - how can I get to Times Square from here?" then you would have the pause. In my opinion, though, "Would you tell me how I can get to Times square from here?" or "Would you tell me how I get to Times Square...?" sound better.

    As BobK pointed out "from here" is redundant as people normally ask for directions to somewhere, from where they are currently standing!

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    #5

    Re: Would you tell me how can I get to Times Square from here?

    emsr2d2, thank you for the supplementary explanation.


  3. BobK's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Would you tell me how can I get to Times Square from here?

    Quote Originally Posted by LiuJing View Post
    BobK, do you mean both are acceptable:

    Would you tell me how I can get to Time Square?
    Would you tell me how can I get to Time Square?
    I agree with emsr2d2 that if you wrote 'Would you tell me how can I...' it would be wrong; written like that, the second clause is subordinate - so verb and subject should be inverted. But the two clauses are punctuated by an event: 'Would you tell me [something - and you'll have to stop doing whatever you're doing in order to answer]?' Now the answerer stops and pays attention. 'How can I...?' The second clause has become a main clause. In effect, the written version of the request would be 'Would you tell me: how can I get...'

    In general, I think it's a mistake to impose the grammar of written English onto speech. So, in answer to your first question, it depends what you mean by acceptable.

    b

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    #7

    Re: Would you tell me how can I get to Times Square from here?

    I agree with emsr2d2 that you are asking about ability. To me, therefore, 'can'/'could' sounds more natural than 'would'.

    Also, I expect most people would approach a stranger with 'Excuse me!' (or similar) so the structure:

    'Excuse me [pause], could you tell me [pause]: how do I get to Times Square from here?'

    whilst fine, wouldn't be the mostly likely thing to say - well, for me anyway, especially when there are so many other ways to say it. Here's a few - very roughly, starting from the most polite:

    Excuse me ...
    you don't happen to know the way to Times Square, do you?
    you couldn't tell me the way to Times Square, could you?
    you don't know the way to Times Square, do you?

    do you happen to know the way to Times Square?
    could you tell me the way to Times Square?
    do you know the way to Times Square?

    (and even more if you replace 'the way' in the above with 'how to get' or 'how I can get')

    Frankly though, in most cases, the conversation would be as likely to be:

    "'Scuse, you any idea how to get to Times Square?"
    "Yeah, straight ahead, ..."
    "Cheers. Thanks. Bye!"

    Well, for me anyway. I mean, I've excused myself for interrupting and given my thanks so, to me, that passes muster!

    Finally, it's right that 'from here' is redundant but this is conversation, not prose. I might not say it, but then I might. I mean, I could happily say:

    Excuse, you don't have any idea how to get from here to Times Square, do you?

  4. Ouisch's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Would you tell me how can I get to Times Square from here?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    It sounds OK to me, although the 'from here' is probably unnecessary - a 'from X' phrase is only necessary when you're not going from here:
    This is very true (and very logical), but have you ever noticed that probably 80% of the time if you ask someone for directions, their first response to you will be "from here?" I do it, too; my husband recently asked me (with shopping list and car keys in hand) "How do I get to Papa Joe's Market?" and I immediately replied "From here?" "No," he rolled his eyes, "from Pago Pago!"

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