Which of the following is a correct sentence:

  1. Does anyone know where's Linda?

  2. Does anyone know where Linda is?

Does anyone know why and how to use above usage if #2 is correct. Also please let me know this kind of specific structures.

  • 2
    #2 is correct. However, "Where is Linda?" is valid. But #1 is not.
    Oct 13, 2014 at 14:01
  • Basically, your example deals with a subordinate interrogative clause. Usually (especially on tests), interrogative clauses which are subordinate clauses do not undergo subject-auxiliary inversion -- which it normally would have if it had been a main clause.
    – F.E.
    Oct 13, 2014 at 18:15
  • There's probably many threads out there (on ELL and ELU) that have some or most of the info needed to answer this question, but I think a solid answer should be written to answer this specific question. Imagine yourself as being the OP, someone who is learning English as a foreign language, then, you would probably have difficulty in parsing the info from other threads, since you would not only have to figure out what info is related to your own question, but you would also have to figure out the good info from the bad. I think that might be asking too much from an EFL speaker.
    – F.E.
    Oct 15, 2014 at 0:16
  • Thanks, but I think that probably it to be show you how much important such as that query.
    – Carter
    Oct 15, 2014 at 0:42
  • Where's Linda? = Contraction is a feature of spoken English
    – learner
    Oct 21, 2014 at 13:17

2 Answers 2

  1. "Does anyone know where is Linda?"
  2. "Does anyone know where Linda is?"

Your #2 example will usually be what is wanted by teachers and exams. That is, the #2 example is grammatical and standard English -- especially as a standalone sentence.

While your #1 example will usually be considered to be ungrammatical and unacceptable by teachers and exams. BUT . . .

W.R.T. example #1: Let me discuss your #1 example a bit more:

  1. "Does anyone know where is Linda?"

You will often see sentences structured in a similar way (to your #1 example) in written form, such as in novels and in transcripts of actual dialogue, and you will often hear it verbally in spoken form by native English speakers. When something like that is spoken, the speaker will typically use pauses and intonation and stress to make understood the meaning that they are trying to communicate. A fiction writer will often use punctuation to help show that meaning in the text:

  • e.g. "Does anyone know, where is Linda?" Tom asked.

So, you will see sentences using structures similar to your #1 example in edited fiction and in print (paper and online), and they weren't making a mistake by doing so. But you probably want to be careful where you yourself might try to use such structures -- that is, you probably don't want to do it while in school or for your employer. (Aside: fiction writers can basically do whatever they want to do in their prose.)

W.R.T. example #2: This is the version that would be considered to be grammatical and standard English, and also acceptable in common usage.

  1. "Does anyone know [where Linda is]?"

Let's spend some time and look at the grammar that is involved in this example. First, let's see what the speaker is wanting here: that is, what the speaker really, truly, actually wants to know is the answer to the question:

  • "Where is Linda?"

But a commonly used, polite convention is to be a bit more wordy about it, and so, the speaker chooses to use the lengthier version which is the #2 example "Does anyone know where Linda is?"

Besides the extra length in the speaker's question, you'll also notice that the embedded question, which is in italics, has a different structure than it would have if it was a main clause interrogative:

  • "Where is Linda?" -- (main clause, interrogative clause)

  • "Does anyone know where Linda is?" -- (embedded question, subordinate interrogative clause)

Let's assume that Linda is playing in the city park, and so, we can have the following:

  • "Linda is in the park," Sue said. -- (declarative clause)

  • "Linda is where?" Bill asked. -- (interrogative clause with interrogative word in situ)

  • "Where is Linda?" Cathy asked. -- (interrogative clause with subject-auxilary inversion)

  • "Does anyone know where Linda is?" Larry asked. -- (embedded question, subordinate interrogative clause)

You'll notice that the last version above is similar to your #2 example. It so happens that in today's standard English, that the embedded question does not undergo subject-auxiliary inversion, not even when the interrogative word is fronted. That is why the subordinate clause is "where Linda is".

EXTRA: Let's go a bit further, and see what the question mark is actually related to: is the question mark for the embedded question ("where Linda is") or is it for the matrix clause?

Consider the following:

  • "Ralph knows where Linda is." -- (declarative main clause)

  • "Does Ralph know where Linda is?" -- (interrogative main clause)

As you can see from the last two examples, although they both have the identical embedded questions, only the one with the interrogative main clause also has the question mark at the end. So, that means that the question mark is due to the interrogative main clause -- for your specific original examples.

Though, note again, that in the real world (and in novels and in print), you will probably see counterexamples. For instance, the declarative clause version could be punctuated with a question mark when it is asked like a question:

  • "Ralph knows where Linda is?" -- (declarative question)

where the writer wants the sentence read in a manner as though the speaker is unsure of Ralph actually knowing where Linda is -- that is, the speaker wants to hear confirmation that Ralph actually does know that info. If the sentence was spoken out loud, then its intonation would end with a rising pitch, in a way that would be similar to the way that a typical question, one that had a similar structure to this, would sound as it ends.

  • 3
    +1 Phew, thank goodness you got that in before the bar came down! The linked to answers don't address the issue here very well at all, imo. Yours is much more helpful. :) Oct 15, 2014 at 9:16
  • 2
    Might be worth mentioning that the acceptability goes up fourfold if the clause order is reversed: Where's Linda, does anyone know? Oct 21, 2014 at 21:38
  • Uh… if you will often see sentences structured in a similar way (to your #1 example) in written form, such as in novels and in transcripts of actual dialogue, and you will often hear it verbally in spoken form by native English speakers, might we have two or three examples, please? Araucaria's 'Where's Linda, does anyone know?' works because it's the other way round but how could 'Does anyone know, where is Linda?' ever go unnoticed, please? Jan 15, 2017 at 23:44

British Citizen Answer: 2 is correct. 1 does make sense, however, I would insert a comma to create the following: "Does anyone know, where is Linda?" Most people would use 2, however.

  • 2
    I don't think the comma makes it much better. I would write it as two sentences instead: "Where is Linda? Does anyone know?"
    – ColleenV
    Oct 13, 2014 at 17:52
  • 1
    @ColleenV I was going to ask what would your answer had made it clear!
    – learner
    Oct 21, 2014 at 13:08
  • @Col How we would write it is not directly responsive to a question about grammaticality. It's fine to provide that information, of course, but readers may be confused as to whether you are implying that something is incorrect or ungrammatical. Mar 22, 2016 at 5:03
  • @JimReynolds Huh? I wasn't attempting to answer the question (more than a year ago btw) and there seems to be evidence to the contrary that my comment was confusing. Your indirectness makes it very difficult to understand exactly what you're trying to say.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 22, 2016 at 12:28
  • @Col Who cares if it's 20 years old. It's new to whoever is reading it now. More directly: F.E.'s answer (Example 1) shows some text that is not simply categorized as correct or incorrect, but that is idiomatic, especially as speech or written dialogue. Quite respectfully, why are you sharing how you'd write it? Would you always write it that way? Your comment was called an answer by the person who posted below it, saying it "made something clear." I wonder what. I suppose I'd just point out that in addition to how you might write something, there are probably many other ways to write it. Mar 23, 2016 at 5:16

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .