Recently I was been posted with this question: Why is
1. I don't know who is he. (grammatically incorrect)
2. I don't know who he is. (grammatically correct)
Even as a native English speaker, I could not give the person asking this question a definite answer or explanation. Please enlighten me on this. Thanks!

  • I can only imagine the first sentence being used with a comma in between: "I don't know, who is he?" is something that a person might say out loud, as speech does not adhere to formal grammar. – Symantra Jul 4 '16 at 9:15
  • Another related question, Changing subject and verb positions in statements and questions. – user140086 Jul 4 '16 at 9:43
  • Careless me, didn't realise this question is about indirect speech. Thank you everyone for your help. – DunnoHowToCode Jul 4 '16 at 9:45

"Who is he" can only be a complete sentence, whereas "who he is" can only be a clause embedded in another sentence. In English where there is little conjugation, word order is more heavily relied upon to make that kind of distinction, so this shows up a lot.

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  • This sounds logical to me, I shall convey as such to my friend who posted me with this question. Thank you so much! – DunnoHowToCode Jul 4 '16 at 9:25

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