I prepare myself for ielts speaking test on these days and my topic is "what do you think about friendship?". In this case, I'm talking about people that I met in summer in different country.

It wasn't important where they are from

It wasn't important where are they from.

Can you tell me which one is correct? If two of them are wrong or inappropriate, how can I say in appropriate way?


It wasn't important where they are from

is the correct form

where are they from

is the form for a question.

  • So if I talk without question, I always have to use the first form, right? – winnervswinner Feb 19 '17 at 3:14
  • 1
    Yes, if you turn the sentences to point o yourself, you would have "where I am from" vs "where am I from?" can you see the difference? – Peter Feb 19 '17 at 3:19

It wasn't important where they are from

This is the correct form.

"It" is a dummy subject in this sentence. One way to figure out the correct structure is to rework the sentence to avoid the dummy subject. If you did that, the options would be:

Where they are from wasn't important.


Where are they from wasn't important.

Hopefully this helps clarify that "where they are" is correct.

In general, placing a verb before the subject indicates a question. You aren't asking a question, though; you're identifying a place.


The OP isn't asking a question. Instead, he's stating, telling, or declaring something - a fact. In other words, he's making an assertive or a declarative statement.

You cannot form an assertive sentence in an interrogative form. So the correct sentence is:

It wasn't important where they come from.

Besides, the word where has been used as a conjunction. I think you cannot use the subordinating clause in a question form.


It was not important where they were from.

Since you are not asking about their homeland or the city they live in, you need to use the assertive form. (In interrogative form, the question would end with question mark "?", so you have to use the first one.)

Also, since you used the past "was" you should use were.


I'm going to nitpick a bit. You should use "where they are from," as this is perfectly normal in speech. But technically, it is incorrect to end a sentence with a preposition like "from." A strictly correct usage would be something like, "it doesn't mater from which country they come," although so few people use this rule that it seems out of place in everyday language.

  • 4
    It is not 'incorrect' to end a sentence with a preposition (provided that it is otherwise correct). – Sydney Feb 19 '17 at 6:04
  • 1
    This "nitpicking" is simply perpetuating a grammar school myth, and learners would do well to ignore such pedantry. – J.R. Nov 29 '17 at 20:18

protected by J.R. Nov 29 '17 at 20:22

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.