How to learn Dependent Clauses in German Grammar

indirect questions

Indirect questions are the type of questions that are included in the structure of sentence. Since indirect questions are dependent subordinate clauses, we have to change the verb's position. Indirect questions follow certain opening phrases, see the examples below. They often end with a period rather than a question mark.

Learn about the word order and the punctuation of indirect questions in German grammar and put your skills to the test in the exercises.

Examples:

  • Ich bin nicht sicher, ob...

  • Ich weiß nicht, ob, wie, wann …

  • Sie fragt, …

  • Ich verstehe nicht, …

  • Der Mann möchte wissen, …

  • Ich sage dir nicht, …

  • Können Sie mir sagen, …?

  • I'm not sure if...

  • I don't know if, how, when ...

  • She asks...

  • I don't understand...

  • The man wants to know ...

  • I'm not telling you ...

  • Can you tell me ...?

  • Word order in indirect questions

The sentence structure of indirect questions is different in German grammar from regular questions - in indirect questions the finite verb is placed at the end of the sentence. The rule for word order in indirect questions is: Question word + Subject + Object + Verb.

Example: Wann hat sie Urlaub? - Ich weiß nicht, wann sie Urlaub hat. When does she have vacation? - I don't know when she has vacation.
Was hat der Mann gesagt? - Ich sage dir nicht, was der Mann gesagt hat. What did the man say? - I'm not telling you what the man said.

  • Indirect questions with ob

When there is no question word, we use ob to begin the indirect question.
Example: Kommt er heute Abend? - Sie fragt, ob er heute Abend kommt.
Is he coming tonight? - She asks if he is coming tonight.

  • Punctuation in indirect questions

Indirect questions typically finish with a period, not a question mark (see example shown above). A question mark is used only when the indirect question is a genuine question.

Example: Kannst du mir sagen, wo der Bahnhof ist? Can you tell me where the train station is?

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