Conversational English – What are Embedded Questions?


Hi. My name is Rebecca, and in today’s lesson,
we’re going to talk about something called: “Embedded Questions”. Okay? Now, many English
learners have a difficult time when they’re framing questions, because you have to change
the word order. But embedded questions actually require you to change the order back again,
so they can be even more confusing, unless you understand the principle. So, please make
sure you pay attention to this one. A lot of English students don’t recognize that they’re
making a mistake because they’ve taken so much trouble to learn the regular way of asking
questions, that they don’t realize that when you have an embedded question, you need to
change that order all over again. Okay? So, what is an embedded question? An embedded
question is not a question that you ask somebody in bed. An embedded question is a question
that is found inside another question, or inside a sentence or statement. All right?
So that’s enough theory for now. Let’s look at the actual reality. Okay, so let’s take this regular question:
“Where is the bank?” Right? You see I’ve written the verb, “is” in red, and that’s the regular
way you would ask the question. You would take the sentence, “The bank is
somewhere”, and say: “Where is the bank?” However, when you add something like this
before that, then the order at the end is going to change. Let me show you what I mean.
“Where is the bank?” Or: “Can you tell me where the bank is?” That’s the correct
way to ask this question. We do not say: “Can you tell me where was”, or: “where is the
bank?” All right? The original question by itself if you ask it is: “Where is the bank?”
But if you add something before it, like: “Can you tell me”, or: “Do you know”, or:
“Could you tell me”, “Would you know”, “Would you happen to know”, right? If you add one
of these expressions before the rest of the question, then the
order changes back. So, for example, you would say:
“Do you know where the bank is?”, “Could you tell me
where the bank is?”, “Would you happen to know where the bank
is?” All right? So instead of saying: “Where is the bank?” You say: “Where the bank
is”, if you have one of these expressions before that. If you don’t, then you
stay with the regular question format. Let’s take another example. “Who was that
man?” Okay? If you’re only asking that much, then that’s fine. “Who was that man?” But if
you’re going to add one of these expressions before, then we cannot say: “Would you know who
was that man?” No. That’s wrong. You would need to say: “Would you know who that man was?”
Okay? I know it seems a little bit confusing if you haven’t come across this before, but
believe me, it’s right. A lot of my students ask me: “Are you
sure?” Yes, I am sure. So, let’s look at it again. Now, one point,
this happens not only when we add question tags like this-okay?-but also in sentences.
An embedded question can be in a sentence. For example, you could say: “I know where
the bank is.” Or: “I don’t know where the bank is.” We do not say: “I
don’t know where is the bank. ” You say: “I don’t know
where the bank is.” Or: “I don’t remember who that man was.”
Okay? Or: “Would you know who that man was?” You see what’s happening? The
order is changing. All right? Now, let’s take a couple of examples so that
you can practice. Okay? I’m going to ask you a question in the regular format, and you
practice in your mind or wherever you are, changing it to the way it should be because
it’s an embedded question. So let’s take the regular question: “How much was that cellphone?”
Okay? “How much was that cellphone?” So now, if we make it into an
embedded question: “Could you tell me how much
the cellphone was?” Right? “Could you tell me how
much the cellphone was?” Let’s take another question. “How old is he?”
That’s a regular question. “How old is he?” If you ask it as an embedded
question, you could say: “Would you happen to
know how old he is?” Not: “How old is he?” But: “Would you
happen to know how old he is?” Okay? One more practice question. “What time is
the flight?” All right? By itself, that’s a regular question. “What time is
the flight?” Or you could say: “Do you know what time
the flight is?” Okay? Don’t worry if you’re feeling a little bit
confused; it is a kind of a different kind of concept to get your mind to wrap around,
but you can do it. And I do recommend that you practice that a lot. And if you go to our website
you can find a quiz on this, www.engvid.com. You’ll see a quiz on this, you’ll also find
videos on various other topics in English. Okay? So good luck with your English.
I’m sure you can do it. All the best.

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