1. Being curious about the tractor, I asked how old is that tractor?
  2. Being curious about the tractor, I asked how old that tractor is?

The grammar checker that I used stated that the first sentence shown above is wrong (looks OK to me). I re-worded the sentence as shown in the 2nd sentence, and my grammar checker then approved the 2nd sentence shown above.

Here is what my grammar checker had to say about the 1st sentence:

It appears that the verb and noun phrases "is that tractor" are incorrectly inverted. Consider changing the word order.

Which of these two sentences uses the correct word order, and why?

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    ...but note that "grammar checkers" are tools intended to draw a native speaker's attention to (possible) "slip-ups" in the expectation they'll be easily recognised and corrected. There're not suitable tools for learning English. – FumbleFingers Sep 28 '17 at 15:57
  • 'Being curious about the tractor, I asked how old it was.' // 'I asked how old it was/is?' is just about possible as a declarative question repeating a question, in a second attempt to elicit an answer. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 28 '17 at 16:19
  • The first one was better than the second one, but both have their problems. Grammar checkers are generally not very reliable, and should only be used to "double-check" for problems you simply overlooked. – Hot Licks Sep 29 '17 at 2:24
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    Notably, no question is being asked in the second version, so no question mark should be used. In the first version there is a sort of "informal" question asked, so the question mark can maybe be justified (or at least rationalized). – Hot Licks Sep 29 '17 at 2:26

Both can be considered correct, but for different reasons.

  1. Being curious about the tractor, I asked "how old is that tractor?".

If you are quoting yourself, then the word order of the question is retained, because you are repeating the question word for word.

  1. Being curious about the tractor, I asked how old that tractor is.

Note the absence of the question mark. This is not a question. It's a statement about asking a question.

I can whisper "I am shouting loudly" to you. Just because I state that I am shouting does not mean that I am actually shouting my statement.

Similarly, just because you state that you asked a question, does not mean that your current statement is actually a question in and of itself.

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