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Some context. In a e-mail conversation, I am trying to understand what I should do next. The question I am trying to ask is:

Is the next step to submit a tech support ticket?

The variant I was tempted to write was:

Is the next step is to submit a tech support ticket?

I wanted to start a sentence with an 'is' so that it is a question. Which way is correct?

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English follows Subject-Verb-Object for most simple declarative sentences, and [Modal]Verb-Subject-Object (or the rest of the predicate) for many questions. Inverting a declarative sentence's subject and modal verb will convey a question:

John is walking to the store.

Becomes

Is John walking to the store?

If you did as you are thinking, and asked "The next step is to [do something]?", that could be valid, but it asserts some confidence that [something] is the correct answer because it isn't really a question: it's a restatement of something with a question mark (meaning the speaker wishes to confirm it, or the speaker is incredulous or in disbelief about it: "John is walking to the store? In this terrible storm? It's four miles to the store!"). If you are speaking this sentence and don't have the right inflection to your voice, it could be misinterpreted as a statement of fact, unless it is absolutely clear from context that you're asking a question, and even then, it's not technically correct.

On the other hand, "Is the next step to [do something]?" is clearly a question, because of the subject and verb order inversion.

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  • I've updated the question. For some reason 'Is the next step to submit a tech support ticket?' does not sound right to me still. In my e-mail I rephrased it as 'The next step is to submit a tech support ticket, right?' just in case.
    – kolbusa
    Jan 15 at 15:47
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    It is right, though. That is the standard question form. Jan 31 at 11:13
  • @kolbusa, in your rephrasing, you are restating what you believe to be a fact, and then adding "right?" to confirm it. That's a valid way to do it too, in the context where you reasonably expect it to be true.
    – Tim
    Apr 21 at 21:27

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