I am not sure which is the correct sentence:

a. What initiatives is this company taking?


b. What initiatives this company is taking?

I feel b is correct , but I am not sure why.

Please shed some light.
1 2
Direct questions require subject-verb inversion.

This company is | taking | what initiatives?


What initiatives | is this company | taking?

Indirect questions don't invert.

I wonder | what initiatives | this company is | taking.

CalifJim, thanks for your reply. Here is what I have understood:

I meet you and ask you a direct a question: How are you?


I meet your friend and ask him about you: How he is?


It's like we see on the Web sites of some companies: Who we are? But if the company asks itself the same question, it would be "Who are we?"

Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Not exactly. The direct question is the one that is asked in real time, pure and simple. It doesn't matter who you ask or who or what you ask about.
The indirect question is the question that is embedded in a statement. There is always a string of words that precedes the question part, like I don't know, I can't even guess, I wonder, I have no idea, I can't remember, You'll never guess, This is, That is, etc.

How is he? is a direct question you might ask someone. (Note the question mark.)
I don't know how he is. is a statement with a question embedded in it. It's a statement that contains an indirect question. (Note the period.)

How is he? (direct)
I wonder how he is. (All the rest in this group are indirect.)
I have no idea how he is.
I can't remember how he is.
You'll never guess how he is.
I would like to know how he is.
That is how he is.

Where is the post office? (direct)
I have no idea where the post office is. (All the rest in this group are indirect.)
I only vaguely remember where the post office is.
You should know where the post office is.
Nobody will tell me where the post office is.
This is where the post office is.

You can also embed an indirect question in a direct question! All the following illustrate this.

Can you tell me how he is?
Do you ever wonder how he is?
Could you please let me know how he is?
Is that how he is?
What should I do to find out where the post office is?
Can you tell me where the post office is?
Have you already forgotten where the post office is?
Is this where the post office is?

When a website says "Who are we?" they are asking a direct question, imagining that you, the viewer, are asking (in you mind) the direct question, "Who are you?", because you want to know about the website. When a website says "Who we are" they are shortening this announcement: "This is who we are." If they say "Who we are", they should not be using a question mark.

CJ, thanks for the detailed explanation.

Direct: Have I understood?

Indirect: I am wondering if I have understood.

Q-in-Q: Do you think I have understood?

Yes or no?
You got it!
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
good job Emotion: smile

nice practice Emotion: wink

Dear CJ, is my below examples correct?

Direct: what are your plans like for tomorrow?
indirect: I wonder what his plans are like for tomorrow.

I hope they are, especially after studying your examples!
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Show more