I'm having trouble to decide which word order to use in this sentence:

So the question is if I am to modify the programme in what environment I should do it.

Is it correct or do I need to change the last part to in what environment should I do it?

3 Answers 3


I think you just need to swap the places of "I" and "Should".

So, your sentence could be

So, the question is, if I am to modify the program, in what environment should I do it?

  • Thank you n0nChun, sometimes when thinking too long it is difficult to decide at last what is right and what is not :)
    – Edwin Ross
    Mar 18, 2011 at 6:50
  • That's what we are here for ^_^ [glad to be of help]
    – n0nChun
    Mar 18, 2011 at 6:53

You have two options, a direct question and an indirect question. Both are correct, but they should not be mixed.

So the question is: "in what environment should I do it?" (direct)

So the question is in what environment I should do it. (indirect)

In the direct question, you literally pose the question in the exact same words you would use if you actually asked someone the question; in direct questions, subject and finite verb are reversed so that you get finite verb — subject ("should I").

The question mark is required; the quotation marks are not required (in your example I'd remove them); instead of the colon, you could use a comma (probably better in your example). Then you get n0nChun's version, which I agree is probably the best choice.

In the indirect question, you make the question subordinate to the main clause of the sentence, so that it isn't a literal question any more, and you use the regular order of subject — finite verb ("I should").

The question mark should not be used.

  • Thank you Cerberus. Is it better to use n0nChun's version in such sentences or is it just a matter of style? I didn't realize that punctuation was so important and could even change the structure of a sentence, now I will have to read more about it.
    – Edwin Ross
    Mar 18, 2011 at 13:15
  • 2
    @EdwinRoss: All versions I mentioned would be correct, but I think n0nChun's version is the best choice considering style. The quotation marks are usually not used when a direct question is not repeated from elsewhere or part of a dialogue, but merely the thought of the writer (you). Colon or comma doesn't matter much. The indirect question gives a somewhat less vivid style than the direct question; I think a slightly more vivid style would fit well here. Mar 18, 2011 at 13:43

I would suggest ending the sentence with “so” rather than “it”.

So if I am to modify the programme, the question is: in what environment should I do so?

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