In a question like this (I took it from an English course):

Can you tell me if there's anything you don't have any doubts about?

Is this correct? (grammatically speaking)

Because for me it seems that I should use the question structure in the second part two, looking like this:

Can you tell me if is there anything you don't have any doubts about?

Which one is right?


You can only have one interrogative structure, starting with Can you tell me, so everything else is in the affirmative:

Can you tell me if there's anything you don't have any doubts about?

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  • 1
    Why remove the word don't? It's not wrong and removal reverses the question asked. The required answer is what is known definitively, not what is in doubt. – Andrew Leach May 14 '16 at 15:52
  • @AndrewLeach I removed 'don't' because you usually ask about things you do have doubts about. – Cathy Gartaganis May 14 '16 at 16:04
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    @CathyGartaganis Around here we frequently have occasion to ask non-native speakers which parts of a difficult sentence they do understand, so we can pin down what their questions are about. – StoneyB on hiatus May 14 '16 at 16:08
  • Also, changing the example given in the question can be confusing: the OP may believe that the example is actually ungrammatical and you can't grammatically use don't, whereas that's not the case at all. By changing the example, you're introducing a complication which is not related to the actual question. – Andrew Leach May 14 '16 at 16:12
  • Fair enough. Point taken. Thank you two for your input. Appreciated. – Cathy Gartaganis May 14 '16 at 16:22

Partly related to: "changing subject and verb position..."

Related to original, direct questions, there are 2 types of them, depending on the beginning they have:

a) Question word/phrase + aux. + subject + main verb...

       Ex.  **WHERE**       DOES     HE        LIVE     ?( int.simple pres.) 

b) Aux.+ subject +main verb...?

  Ex.    **Did**      he         know    the answer?

Trying to be more polite, you may use varied introductions to the questions above,(ex. Tell me../ I don't know../ Can you tell me...etc) what produces a change in the order and case of the original question:

Ex. a)Can you tell me where he lives?(Interrog.S.Present)

        "          **Q.W.**  +  S  +(AFF. SIMPLE PRESENT)

After the introduction, the question word is repeated, immediately followed by the subject and then the verb(s)..in the original affirm. tense.

Ex. b) Did he know the answer? (interrog. simple past)

        Tell me **IF**  he     knew   the answer. (affirm simple past)     

                  **IF**  + S + (AFF.S.P.)... 

In case b), we need an extra word to introduce the question after the introductory "Tell me..."(IF or WHETHER), IMMEDIATELY following the SUBJECT and next, the verb(s).

As you can see, interrogative tenses change to affirmative ones, when you use an introductory expression before.

Since SIMPLE PRESENT AFFIRMATIVE and SIMPLE PAST AFFIRMATIVE **do not take the** **auxiliary in the affirmative form,**(DO/DOES/DID). They disappear when you use an expression before the question.

All other tenses always use the auxiliary in aff./interrog. and negative cases.

DO/DOES and DID might appear in affirm SIMPLE PRESENT and SIMPLE PAST when you want to emphasize the action, so nothing doing with embedded questions, title the previous questions receive.

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  • Can you tell me if there's anything you don't have any doubts about? – GLADYS DRUST N. May 14 '16 at 18:20

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