What’s the mistake in this question

“DO YOU KNOW WHERE IS THE RESTROOM?”

 

If you could find the mistake, congratulations! This probably means you’re starting to sound like a native speaker! However, if you couldn’t find it, don’t worry, most Brazilians make this type of mistake and this article will help you learn how to avoid it.

But… what’s wrong? And the answer is: the position of “is”! The correct way to ask such question is: “Do you know where the restroom is?”

Let’s see why:

 

Analyze if the question is composed of two parts

If you break the question “DO YOU KNOW WHERE IS THE RESTROOM?” in two parts, you’ll notice there are two questions, in fact, one inserted into the other. See:

  1. Do you know…?
  2. Where is the restroom?

If we had asked them separately, each of them would have its own question grammar structure: in the first one, we’d use the auxiliary “do”. In the second one, verb to be would be inverted in order to form the question, coming before the subject (‘the restroom’ = subject).

 

How to join two questions into one

If you want to make a question where another question is inserted (“embedded” = embutido/a), you can’t use two question structures in the same question. From the moment they become one single sentence, you have to use only one question structure for it all.

But which question structure should we use, then?

You have to keep only the first question structure, while the second part of the sentence goes back to its affirmative form.

Let’s go back to our previous example and make the appropriate change:

We have a tip!

A way for you to know when to make such a change is to always consider if it’s a direct or indirect question. Indirect questions are those whose beginnings are “introductions” to what you really want to know. They often start like these:

  • Do you know…?
  • Can you tell me…?
  • Do you have any idea…?
  • Does anyone know…?
  • Do you think…?

So, when you start a question this way, you have to pay attention to the second part of the sentence/information, which goes back to its affirmative structure.

Let’s see a few more examples:

  1. Can you tell me what time it is? (and not: “…what time is it?”)
  2. Do you have any idea how I can fix this machine? (and not “… how can I fix this machine?”)
  3. Does anyone know when the meeting is going to end? (and not: “…when is the meeting going to end?”)
  4. Do you think she likes carrot cake? (and not: “… does she like carrot cake?”)

Now, let’s practice a little…

Exercises

A – Correct the mistakes below:

  1. Do you know how old is he?
  2. Do you have any idea when is the train going to arrive?
  3. Can you tell me where does he live?
  4. Does anyone know what does she do for a living?
  5. Do you think will this work?

 

B – Write the following questions in English:

  1. Você pode me dizer onde fica o correio?
  2. Você tem alguma ideia de onde ela mora?
  3. Você pode me dizer como ligar essa máquina?
  4. Alguém sabe quando será a reunião?
  5. Você acha que vai chover?

 

Answers:

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.

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Exercise A:

  1. Do you know how old he is?
  2. Do you have any idea when the train is going to arrive?
  3. Can you tell me where he lives?
  4. Does anyone know what she does for a living?
  5. Do you think this will work?

Exercise B:

  1. Can you tell me where the post office is?
  2. Do you have any idea where she lives?
  3. Can you tell me how to turn on this machine? (or: “…how to turn this machine on?”)
  4. Does anyone know when the meeting is going to be?
  5. Do you think it will rain?

 

See you soon! 🙂

 

Oldcastle School of English

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