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Is it correct sentence: "Could you please explain why have these invoices been cancelled?" Or "Could you please explain why these invoices have been cancelled?" I heard that that have should always stay before noun.

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You might like our sister site: English Language Learners –  Matt Эллен Jun 5 '13 at 12:43
    
related: “Where am I?” vs. “Where I am?” –  Matt Эллен Jun 5 '13 at 15:43
    
related: asking a question with “have” –  Matt Эллен Jun 5 '13 at 15:46
    
Consider a shorter, simpler example based on the same construction: "Explain why is it so" vs "Explain why it is so". The former would only normally occur in casual speech. –  FumbleFingers Jun 5 '13 at 21:40
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closed as off topic by RegDwigнt Jun 5 '13 at 21:28

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2 Answers

up vote 0 down vote accepted

It's either:

Why have these invoices been cancelled?

or

Would you please explain why these invoices have been cancelled?

The first is a direct question: Why has this been done?
The second is an indirect question: Please explain why this has been done.

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[Edited to make more concise]

The trick to understanding where to place "have" is to understand the use of the word "why." If used to introduce a question, you would want to put the have first: "Why have these invoices been cancelled?" If used to introduce a noun clause, you want to put the have next to the word been: "why these invoices have been cancelled." In your original sentence, you are using why as a noun clause, so you should phrase it as: "Could you please explain why these invoices have been cancelled?"

That noted, as @TrevorD mentioned, "Why have these invoices been cancelled?" is a more direct, and often preferred, version in written English.

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