German Grammar Explained /

Indirect questions

There are different ways to ask for favors, give instructions, etc.
In the bar
Hey Joe, pass me the salt.
At home
Can you pass me the salt, Jill?
At home when guests are around
Could you pass me the salt, please?
Even more polite is when we ask indirect questions:
Would you mind passing me the salt?
Würdest du mir bitte das Salz geben?
Indirect questions are very common to ask questions politely, especially when asking for information. But they can be used to express other ideas as well.
Entschuldigung, können Sie mir sagen, wann der Zug kommt?
Excuse me, can you tell me when the train comes?
Indirect questions have two parts: an intro and the question, which are sub clauses. Let's take a look at those parts separately.
Part 1: The introduction
The most useful verb you have to remember is WISSEN.
I'd like to know, ...
Ich würde gerne wissen, ...
Do you know, ...
Wissen Sie, ... (formal) Weißt du, ... (informal)
I wanted to know, ...
Ich wollte/möchte wissen, ...
Other common intros are:
I wonder, ...
Ich frage mich, ...
Can you tell me, ...
Können Sie mir sagen, ...
Part 2: The indirect question
A. On word order: The sentence structure of indirect questions in German grammar differs from that of normal questions – in indirect questions, the finite verb is placed at the end of the sentence. (They are sub clauses!)
Direct question
Wann kommt Tina?
Indirect question
Weißt du, wann Tina morgen kommt?
B. On pronouns:
Questions can have a pronoun (wo, was, wie, etc). In that case it's quite straight forward:
Wann kommst du?
Weißt du, wann du kommst?
Here is what to do in case of "yes/no questions":
Ist das ihre Schwester?
Weißt du, ob das ihre Schwester ist?