Embedded Questions

(wh- and yes/no question clauses)

Download this explanation in PDF here.
Try an exercise about embedded questions here.

Sometimes we want to use a question as part of another question or a statement. This is called an embedded question.

1: We can use embedded questions as part of other questions. This is sometimes called an indirect question and is often used to be polite. See my page about indirect questions for more information.

2: We can also use embedded questions as part of statements. The embedded question is a noun clause and can be used in a similar way to a noun. For example, we can use it as the subject or the object of the main clause. Forming embedded questions
We use the same rules with embedded questions in statements as we do with embedded questions in indirect questions.
  1. If there is a question word, we keep it.
  2. If there is no question word, we use 'if' or 'whether'.
  3. We use normal sentence grammar (so we don't need 'do / does / did').
  4. We use normal sentence word order (subject + verb, not the opposite).
  5. We use a full stop and not a question mark at the end of the sentence.
Here are some examples of verbs that we often use with embedded questions: Subject questions
If you start with a subject question, you don't need to change the grammar much, because it is already similar to a statement. (Read more about subject questions here.) Try an exercise about embedded questions in statements here.
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'A' and 'The' Explained