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Tuesday, 28 October 2008

When Is A Question An Indirect Question?

“Where is the dog?”

“Can you tell me where the dog is?”

Both of these questions ask the same thing, but they are different kinds of questions. “Where is the dog?” is called a direct question and “Can you tell me where the dog is?” is an indirect question even though both questions are asking the same thing. The difference is that the second question is longer and has a more polite way of asking the question, which is the main difference between indirect and direct questions.

Indirect questions use a form of the verb “to do”, such as “Do you know where the dog is?” Some of these questions are not really questions and more like statements, such as “I wonder what I will have for dinner.” One definition of this kind of question is that it is a polite way of encouraging a response from someone.

It is important to realize that indirect questions do not use the verb form of “to do” in the main question. Let’s use a direct question “when does the store open?” as an example. The indirect version of this would be “can you tell me when the store opens?”. An incorrect version of an indirect form would be to say “can you tell me when does the store open?” Notice how using the verb form of “to do” (does) is not to be used in the main question of the indirect form.

There are many ways to create an indirect question. Remember, not all indirect questions possess a similar sentence structure as a normal question. In other words, indirect questions can be a way of asking something without needing a question mark at the end of the sentence.

For example: I’d be curious to know how much gas costs today.

That is an indirect question in the sense that it encourages a response from the listener but is not formally structured as a question.

Here are some of the endless ways to start an indirect question:

I wonder if…
It’d be interesting to know…
I can imagine that was…
I can’t remember whether or not…
I wish I knew…

You can combine these phrases with any direct question to form an indirect question.

Here are five direct questions:

Is Jim going to the game?
How far can that plane fly?
Was that experience terrifying?
Did I close the garage?
When will you be returning home?

Let’s combine the five ways we listed of how to start an indirect question with the five direct questions listed above.

I wonder if Jim is going to the game.
It’d be interesting to know how far that plane can fly.
I can imagine that was a terrifying experience.
I can’t remember whether or not I closed the garage.
I wish I knew when you will be returning home.

Notice how all of the direct questions ended in a question mark. Yet, by using indirect question phrases, we transformed all of those questions into a sentence that doesn’t use a question mark.

But don't be confused. Plenty of indirect questions still need a question mark. One example of this is : Would you mind telling me what time it is?

Source :

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

How to use gerunds

In English, the ing form, for example swimming or smoking, is both a noun and a verb. You can follow it by an object, smoking cigarettes, by a verb, swimming is good, or you can make it the object of a sentence, I like swimming.

1. After Verbs

You use the ing form after some verbs such as enjoy, admit, appreciate, can't stand / help / bear, deny, avoid, mind, understand.

For example, "I can't stand doing nothing", or "she denied breaking the copier".

With 'from' and 'to' with some verbs

Prevent / stop someone from doing: "He prevented her from leaving."

Look forward to doing: "We look forward to hearing from you soon."

Object to doing: "Does anyone object to me smoking?"

Get used to doing: "It took him a long time to get used to living in a city."

Prefer something to doing something else: "I prefer cooking to doing the dishes."

2. After preposition

"Before going out he turned off the heating."

"I'm tired of arguing."

"These are used for cracking walnuts."

"I passed the exam by remembering the equations."

In some fixed expressions

"As well as doing…"
"It's no good doing…"
"It's no use doing…"

Some verbs can use either the 'to do' or the 'ing' form

See / hear / watch someone do / doing

With the verb form do, you see or hear the whole action. For example,” I heard him tell you about the letter."

With the verb form ing you only see or hear part of the action. For example, "I saw her drinking a coffee in the bar."

Remember / regret

If you use ing after these verbs, you are talking about something that happened before. "I remember coming here as a child" - I'm not a child any more, but I remember the times when I came here before.

"I regret not studying." (I didn't study in the past and I regret it now.)

If you use the to do form after these verbs, then you are referring to something in the future.

"Please remember to turn off the lights." (Please don't forget to do it later.)

"I regret to inform you that…" (I'm just about to tell you some bad news.)


"I want to stop smoking." (I want to break my habit.)

"She stopped to sit down." (She stopped walking so that she could sit down.)


Try + ing = try out this experiment.

Try reading something in English every day." (You may be surprised at the results!)

Try to do = try hard to do something.

"Please try to be quiet when you come in." (please make an effort)

Source :

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

The Importance of Learning a Foreign Language

Learning a new or foreign language can be difficult. Most people may feel as though they simply do not have the time or the necessity to learn a language different from the one they grew up with. Many Americans, especially, are under the impression that the rest of the world should learn English. Thus, Americans can stick with what they already know, English. However, I believe that in today's world, it is necessary to begin learning another language (or a few more).

A Few reasons to learn a new language

1. Often, people from other countries speak more than one language. Therefore, they have access to more opportunities, both in the availability of business partnerships abroad or within pleasurable travel experiences as they are able to communicate with more people.

2. In regards to the recent crash of the economies of America and other nations (especially in Europe), it seems as though the failures in the American economy have lead to failures in economies worldwide. Thus the world is dependent upon the global market. As a consequence, in order for an individual to become active in the global community, they must be able to communicate globally- and learning a foreign language is an essential component.

3. With the rise of the melting pot caused in part by immigration and a more general openness to accept others, comes many various cultures, many of which bring along with them their native language.

4. Getting to know another culture and travel to the respective country is one of the more obvious reasons for learning a foreign language. Imagine yourself learning about the Great Wall of China from a native, sipping un café à Paris whilst you converse with the locals at a café near the Eiffel Tower, or or even just understanding directions to a famed restaurant or hotel that you have heard about on a travel show. One of the first steps to getting to know a culture is being able to converse with its members.

Many people may try to find a shortcut to learning a new language. In order to truly acquire a foreign language, you must be willing to commit to it for the long term. Many people claim that they previously knew another language, but they have forgotten it because of a lack of practice.

In the future I plan on discussing different methods to learning a foreign language, and the retention of the language. If you have come to this site, I am going to assume that you are open to the possibilities that the world has to offer, the opportunities that learning a foreign language provides.

Source : David /