English grammar – Reported questions

Form & meaning

These general rules for reported speech also apply.

  1. When we report questions, the subject comes before the verb.
    • Direct speech: “Where are you going?”
      Reported speech: He asked me where I was going.
    • Direct speech: “Why is he shouting?”
      Reported speech: He asked me why he was shouting.
    • Direct speech: “What do you want?”
      Reported speech: She asked me what I wanted.
  2. When reporting questions we don’t use the auxiliary verb do, except in negative questions.
    • Direct speech: “Who doesn’t like cheese?”
      Reported speech: She asked me who didn’t like cheese.
  3. We report yes/no questions with if or whether.
    • Direct speech: “Do you want me to come?”
      Reported speech: I asked him if he wanted me to come.
    • Direct speech: “Have you fed the dog?”
      Reported speech: She asked me whether I had fed the dog.
  4. When we report questions with who, what or which + to be + object, the verb be can come before or after the object.
    • Direct speech: “Who is the champion?”
      Reported speech: She asked me who the champion was / She asked me who was the champion.
    • Direct speech: “What is your favourite colour?”
      Reported speech: She asked me what my favourite colour was / She asked me what was my favourite colour.

Related grammar points

Reported Speech
Reporting Verbs
Say and Tell

Keith Taylor
Keith is the co-founder of Eslbase. He has been a teacher and teacher trainer for over 20 years, in Indonesia, Australia, Morocco, Spain, Italy, Poland, France and now in the UK.

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Comments

  1. It’s very informative… It helped me a lot…
    Thank you

    Reply
  2. can you convert this?
    the student said, “would that my results were different”

    Reply
  3. Hi , in my book there is exercise that want change sentence from Reported question sentence to direct question
    My question is ( in past perfect sentence ) how I know that this sentence change to past simple or present perfect.
    Because both of them in direct speech change to past perfect .

    Reply
    • Hi, can you write here the sentence that you need to change?

      Reply
  4. Hi
    I have a question, my English teacher said we never inverted the subjects in the reported questions. But in your work I saw that you are inverted the subjects in that reported question. Can you tell me why you do this?

    Reply
  5. please can you tell me what is the reported speech of “what was the last book you read? “….please it is very important

    Reply
    • He asked what book I read last

      Reply

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