I am trying to understand what is the difference between these two sentences and which is correct.

Please select how would you like to receive your messages?

Please select how you would like to receive your messages?

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  • Welcome to EL&U. It takes the same form as an indirect question, sometimes called embedded questions, so #2 is not the way we would usually phrase it. – Cascabel Apr 11 at 17:45
  • The first is written by a non-native speaker or someone of poor education. But it doesn’t really matter because all you really need to know is how to opt out of their spam. – David Apr 11 at 19:22

In "how would you", the verb and subject (you would) are inverted (would you?) to form a question, like "how would you like to receive your messages?", "how would you answer this question?" How is a question word that can (depending on context) be substituted by When, Where, Why...

The normal form "how you would" is just this, "you would" is a conditional form: if X, then you would Y. "If there are any messages, this is how you would like to receive them." no question here, just an affirmation.

The correct way to phrase your sentence is not one of the two you proposed. Here are the correct ways:

  • How would you like to receive your messages? (a question) Please select. (an instruction) You could also put the instruction at the beginning with punctuation between instruction and question: "Please select: how would you like...?"

  • Please select how you would like to receive your messages. (not a question, no question mark, it's an instruction)

I think the confusion comes from the choice between the instruction "Please select how you would like" and the question "How would you like ?"

Here's another example of inversion to make a question:

  • He likes coffee.

  • Does he like coffee?


  • He is happy.

  • Is he happy?

  • Please select why he is happy.

  • Why is he happy? Please select your answer.

Hope that helps.

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