We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is an Embedded Question?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An embedded question is a question that forms a clause in a greater sentence. These kinds of questions could be called “indirect questions,” in that the question itself often changes form and gets placed into a more developed context, often for purposes of politeness of refining spoken language. Linguists and other experts think of an embedded question as a type of noun clause that plays a role within a complex sentence.

One type of embedded question is a question that gets embedded in another question. These are common types of embedded questions. For example, an English speaker might ask another, “Could you tell me what time it is?” rather than asking “What time is it?” The former structure is an example of an embedded question, where the question word, “where,” does not come at the beginning of the sentence. This example shows how the form of the sentence changes when the speaker uses an embedded question; as in many other cases, this also shows how the longer form presents a question more politely.

Another kind of embedded question is formed inside of a statement. These types of questions often include prefixes to sentences such as “I wonder” or “I know.” For example, if an English speaker says, “I wonder where my keys are?” instead of, “Where are my keys?” they are embedding the question in the longer form sentence. Sentences using the word “know” may be more abstracted forms of question embedding. Someone who says, “I don’t know where my keys are.” is also implicitly asking about the location of the keys, albeit not as directly as in the above example using the word “wonder.”

A further way that sentences often change with this technique revolves around the uses of the simple words “it,” which will refer to a noun, and “is,” a form of the verb “be.” For example, when a person says “Do you know what time it is?” instead of “What time is it?” the order of the words “it” and “is” gets switched. This is one confusing element of the English language that often confounds language learners. Displaying embedded questions next to direct questions is one way for language instructors to present the critical difference between these two forms.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.