I'm wondering which of the following options is correct in writing:

  1. The question is how do we improve our French.
  2. The question is, how do we improve our French?
  3. The question is: How do we improve our French?
  4. The question is how we can improve our French.
  • All four variations work just fine, and they say the same thing. Feb 27 '17 at 22:09
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    I'd look at modern trends argued for here, where report structures mimicking quote structures (<< She wished him Merry Christmas. >>), without the once mandatory (some would argue still mandatory) inverted commas are considered. // (4) is indisputably correct. / Many would accept (3), often/usually without the capital H. And more often with a dash than a colon nowadays. / I'd say (1) is too garden-pathy, but / (2) is becoming more accepted nowadays. Dec 15 '19 at 14:21
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    Does this answer your question? Punctuation with "The question is..." '.', '?' or ' "... ?" ' Apr 8 at 13:29

The question is how we improve our French.

The question is how we can improve our French.

These are indirect questions and they take the normal word order and end without the question mark. The clauses beginning with question words can act as subjects, objects, complements or adverbials.

E.g. Do you know what she wanted? (object)

This is how much I did so far. (Complement)

How you divide up the money is your business. (subject)

I'd like to know how much it is.

  • A British friend of mine wrote "The question is how do we improve our French." Was he incorrect, or simply being colloquial?
    – Apollyon
    Feb 26 '17 at 12:28
  • More details and a lot of examples are available here:perfect-english-grammar.com/indirect-questions.html Feb 26 '17 at 12:44
  • I know standard rules. What I'm curious about is my British friend's sentence. Does that reflect general British speech, or his dialect / idiolect?
    – Apollyon
    Feb 26 '17 at 13:15
  • He punctuated it incorrectly. It should have been direct speech: 'The question is: "how do we improve our French?"' Jul 26 '17 at 18:57

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