Tell me please which sentence is correct.

I wonder what they are doing.

I wonder what are they doing?

  • In English, we reverse the normal subject + verb sequence of #1 when forming questions. But syntactically speaking, example #2 is a statement, not a question (you're asserting that you wonder about something, not actually asking the question). Native speakers do sometimes blur the distinction between question and statement syntax like this (particularly in very casual conversational contexts), but mostly it's something non-native speakers do. I suggest you avoid it. Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 12:20
  • ...or at least learn to recognise what you're doing here, if only so you can avoid extending it to constructions like I don't know what are they doing, which only non-native speakers are likely to come out with. Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 12:26
  • Possible duplicate of I wondered what are your plans? & I wondered what your plans are Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 12:30
  • 2
    Both can be correct. The first would certainly be the most common usage. The second could still be used though - usually involves a pause after wonder and you could almost imagine what are they doing in quotation marks. Thus I wonder, "What are they doing?" Possibly more as a verbal thought or ponderance. Maybe you can hear somebody making a lot of noise and you wonder "what on earth are they doing?"
    – Smock
    Commented Jun 27, 2019 at 14:10

1 Answer 1


I wonder what they are doing.

See Questions and negatives | LearnEnglish - British Council:

We sometimes use phrases like these in front of a statement to ask questions:

Do you know …? I wonder … Can you tell me …?


For wh-questions, we use the phrases with a question word:

Do you know who lives here?

I wonder how much this dress is.

Can you tell me where she comes from?

We often use do you think …? after question words:

How much do you think this dress is?

Where do you think she comes from?

Who do you think lives here?

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