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This question already has an answer here:

I don't understand the following question:

And can you tell me where you’re from?

Why is "where you are from" used instead of "where are you from"?

marked as duplicate by Nathan Tuggy, Ben Kovitz, user3169, pyobum, Chenmunka May 18 '15 at 7:46

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  • You could say it the way you suggest, but it would be punctuated differently: And can you tell me: Where are you from? – J.R. May 18 '15 at 9:29
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Where are you from? is a question. The auxiliary verb are "inverts" or changes places with its subject, you.

Can you tell me . . .? is also a question, and likewise has subject/auxiliary inversion: can inverts with you. But then you go on to specify X, the object of the verb tell, the matter you want your hearer to tell you. For that you don't use another question but a fused relative clause, which is not a question and does not have subject/inversion.


BE always behaves like an auxiliary, even when it is the only verb in the clause.

This is sometimes called a free relative clause. It is constructed just like an ordinary relative clause (a bound relative clause), but acts as a noun phrase rather than as a modifier.

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It is used because there is already a question before the where.

Here is a related question and answer:

“Do you know what IS IT?” vs “Do you know what IT IS?”

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