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7. Reported questions

1. When we turn direct questions into indirect speech, the reported clause is an ‘if’-clause (if the question is general) or a ‘wh’-word clause (if the question is special). Tenses, pronouns and possessive adjectives, and adverbs of time and place change as in statements. Word order in an indirect question is the same as in a statement. Do is not used. Question- marks are omitted.

He said, ‘Did you see the visitors?’ He asked if I saw the visitors.

She asked, ‘What are you reading?’ She asked what I was reading.

2. Reported questions are introduced by the verbs of inquiry like ask, inquire, wonder, want to know, etc. Ask can be followed by the person addressed, but the rest of the verbs cannot.

She said, ‘Jane, where are you going?’ She asked Jane where she was going.

She wanted to know where Jane was going.

3. if or whether. Normally both are used to introduce a general question in the reported speech (if is more usual):

I wonder if/whether they would come in time.

But whether is used in the following cases:

a) When there is a choice, and both sides of an alternative are given: He asked me whether I was going to get there by train or by bus. b) whether or not: He asked, ‘Do you want me to help you or not?’ He asked whether or not I wanted him to help me or He asked if I wanted him to help me.

c) after prepositions and before to-infinitives: She wondered whether to leave now or wait. He can’t solve a problem of whether to marry her or her sister.

d) If the question contains a conditional clause. Otherwise there would be two ifs: She said, ‘If you have tome will you do it for me?’

She asked whether, if I had time, I’d do it for her.

8. Questions beginning Shall I/we…? Such questions can be of different types:

1. Requests for information. They follow the ordinary rules about shall/will. The introductory verb is usually wonder. ‘Shall I be there in time for the meeting?’ he wondered.

He wondered if he would be there in time for the meeting.

2. Requests for instructions or advice. They are reported by should or be+infinitive constructions and introduced by ask, inquire etc.: ‘Shall I write the test?’ she asked. She asked if she was to write the test. or She asked if she should write the test.

3. Offers: ‘Shall I carry this bag for you?’ He offered to carry that bag for me.

4. Suggestions:

‘Shall we have dinner in a restaurant?’

He suggested having dinner in a restaurant.

9. Reported orders/requests/advice/suggestions, etc.

1. Indirect commands, requests, orders, etc. are usually expressed by a verb of command/request/order + object + infinitive or infinitive without an object or a that-clause.

The following verbs can be used:

Advise* entreat* recommend* warn*

Admit forbid* refuse

Agree* implore* remind*

Ask* instruct* request*

Appologize invite* suggest

Beg* offer* tell*

Command* order* threaten*

Encourage* persuade* urge*

2. Starred verbs are usually used with the object and the infinitive (=‘Objective-with-the-infinitive’ construction):

‘Sit down here,’ said the mother. The mother asked him to sit down beside her.

‘I’ll beat you,’ said the boy to his younger brother.

The boy threatened to beat his younger brother.

10. apologize for, admit, insist and suggest are followed by the ing-form:

‘Shall we go to a disco?’ He suggested going to a disco.

‘Let’s do it right now.’ He insisted on doing it immediately.

11. advise, admit, agree, insist, promise, suggest and warn can be followed by a that-clause:

She promised (that) she would finish the article be the end of the week.

He admitted (that) he was wrong.

12. ask, agree, beg, offer, promise, refuse and threaten can be followed by the infinitive without mentioning the hearer. Ask and beg can be followed by the passive infinitive:

They asked to see the manager.

The old woman begged not to be interrogated as a witness.

13. Negative commands, requests, offers etc. are usually reported by not + infinitive:

The FBI officer ordered the policemen not to use weapons.