The following phrases are commonly used to introduce embedded questions:
Could you tell me . . .
Do you know . . .
I wanted to know . . .
I wonder . . .
The question is . . .
Who knows . . .
- Declarative Question
- Indirect Question
- Politeness Strategies
- Question Mark
- Twelve Types of Questions in Casablanca
Examples and Observations:
- "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
(Alice in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll)
- "The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be."
(Martin Luther King, Jr.)
- "I live in New York, and I was thinking about the lagoon in Central Park, down near Central Park South. I was wondering if it would be frozen over when I got home, and if it was, where did the ducks go? I was wondering where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over. I wondered if some guy came in a truck and took them away to a zoo or something. Or if they just flew away."
(J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, 1951)
- Stylistic Conventions
"Kate [a copy editor] moves on to the second sentence:
The question is, how many re-readings are reasonable?Uncertain about how to treat a question ('how many re-readings are reasonable?') embedded in a sentence, she picks up [The Chicago Manual of Style] . . . [and] decides to apply the following conventions:
- The embedded question should be preceded by a comma.
- The first word of an embedded question is capitalized only when the question is long or has internal punctuation. A short informal embedded question begins with a lowercase letter.
- The question should not be in quotation marks because it is not a piece of dialogue.
- The question should end with a question mark because it is a direct question.
(Amy Einsohn, The Copyeditor's Handbook. Univ. of California Press, 2006)
- Embedded Questions in AAVE
"In AAVE [African-American Vernacular English], when questions are embedded in sentences themselves, the order of the subject (boldfaced) and the auxiliary (italicized) may be inverted unless the embedded question begins with if:
They asked could she go to the show.(Irene L. Clark, Concepts in Composition: Theory and Practice in the Teaching of Writing. Lawrence Erlbaum, 2003)
I asked Alvin whether did he know how to play basketball.
*I asked Alvin if did he know how to play basketball.