A question within another question?! I wonder how's that ! let's see what are embedded questions to learn more about them.
What Is An Embedded Question?
An embedded question is a question which is within another question or statement.The embedded questions usually begin with inductory phrases such as:
- Do you know...
- I wonder...
- The question is...
- Would you mind...
- Could you tell me...
- I'd like to know...
- Let's ask...
- I'm not sure...
- Who knows...
Where Can We Use Embedded Questions?
There are two ways we can use embedded questions:
- as a part of another question
- as a part of statement
As A Part Of Another Question
Sometimes embedded questions can be used within another question. (This is also called an indirect question) we use it to sound more polite.
normal question: What time is it?
indirect question (with an embedded question):
As A Part Of Statement
Embedded questions are not always a part of a question, sometimes they are a part of a statement too. Since the embedded question is a noun clause it can be treated just like a noun. It can be an object or the subject of the main clasue. For example:
Normal question: Where does he live?
Embedded question in a statement: I don't know
Here "where does he live” is the object.
Embedded question in a statement:
Here “where he lives” is the subject.
Some Rules For Embedded Questions
In a statement instead of a question mark for the end, we use a period. Also if our question's tense is past/present simple, we should take out (do/did/does) and then change the verb accordingly. Let's see some examples:
Embedded question: I wonder what time you
Embedded question: Who knows when you
We should invert the place of the subject and auxiliary verb, if the embedded question has an auxiliary verb or the verb "to be". Look at the followings:
Embedded question: Would you tell me why
Embedded question: Could you please tell me when
Never use verbal contractions at the end of the sentence if there is an embedded question. Look at the examples:
I wonder where
who knows what
If there are not any question word in the sentence, we can introduce the embedded questions using whether, IF and whether or not. For instance:
Direct question: Will she come to the wedding?
Embedded questions: Do you know
Do you know
Do you know
The infinitive can follow a question word or whether in embedded questions. As you can see in the following examples:
Normal question: What should I eat?
Embedded question: I wonder
Embedded question with to-infinitive: I wonder what
Normal question: What can I say?
Embedded question: I'm not sure
Embedded question with to-infinitive : I'm not sure what
Why Do We Use The Embedded Questions?
Here you can see some functions of embedded questions:
- To be Polite
- To express more information
- To change direct speech to indirect speech
To Be Polite
As we mentioned earlier we can use embedded questions to sound more polite, for example:
Normal question: Do you have a watch?
Embedded question: Could you please tell me
To Express More Information
Sometimes we use embedded questions to express more information, for example:
Here it expresses curiosity.
I don't know
Here it shows lack of knowledge.
I'd like to know
Here it's showing desire to know something.
To Change Direct Speech To Indirect Speech
We can use embedded questions to change direct speech to indirect speech as you can see in these examples:
Direct: What do you want to eat?
Indirect: They asked me
Direct: when do you leave?
indirect: He asked me