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Reported Questions in English

Reported Questions

When we report questions we usually change the tense of the verbs and other sentence parts to reflect that we are reporting – see the steps described on our page Reported Speech – A Summary

In Reported speech the question becomes a statement. Mind the word order: subjectverb.

We also use if or whether to show it is a question.

There is no question mark in the Reported Speech.

1. Yes/no questions

There is usually backshift of tenses.

  • Direct Speech → Peter: “Does John like Susan?”
  • Reported Speech → Peter asked if/whether John liked Susan.

The introductory sentence: Peter asked… → is in the Past Simple. There is backshift of tenses. The auxiliary does is dropped in the Reported speech.

Here are some more examples:

Direct Question Reported Question
Do you love me? She asked me if I loved her.
Did you enjoy the party? He asked me if I had enjoyed the party
Have you ever been to America? She asked me if I had ever been to America

1.2. Types of introductory sentences

The word ask in introductory sentences in Reported Questions can be substituted with other words, e.g.

  • want to know
  • wonder

2. Questions with question words

If there is a question with a question word in Direct Speech, (what, where, why, who, when, how) use this question word in Reported Speech. Again there is no auxiliary verb and the word order is like an affirmative sentence

  • Peter: “What time did the train leave?” → Peter asked me what time the train had left.

Here are some more examples:

  • Direct question: “Who did you see?”
  • Reported question: She asked me who I’d seen.
  • Direct question: “Where did you go to school?”
  • Reported question: He asked me where I’d gone to school.
  • Direct question: “Why are you crying?”
  • Reported question: She asked him why he was crying.