I was practicing direct to indirect conversion, when I saw something peculiar in the sentences. Consider the sentence given below -

1) He said to me, "Where do you live?".

I considered various sources and everywhere the correct answer was -

He asked me where I lived.

My question is, why it wasn't transformed like this? -

He asked me where did I live.

Rule says that - The present indefinite is changed to past indefinite, so shouldn't the 'do' of present be changed to 'did' in past? Why in such sentences we omit 'do'?

Now, consider the following sentence -

2) The doctor said to the patient, "If you don't take medicine properly, you will not get well".

The answer was given as -

The doctor warned the patient that if he didn't take medicine properly he would not get well.

Now why didn't we omit 'do'? What's the correct rule? When should I change 'do'? When I should not?

1 Answer 1


Where do you live?– I live in the USA.

In your example "do" is used to form the interrogative in present simple. It is also used to form the negative. Note, you don't use it in the statement

He asked where I lived.

The reported question is usually in a form of a statement. We don't use auxiliaries. But in negative statements they are used.

  • If in negative they are used, then would the sentence like He asked me, "Why don't you work?". be transformed as He asked me why I didn't work. ?
    – sarthak-ag
    Feb 23, 2016 at 13:49
  • @Sarthak123 Yes but the backshift is not necessary if the time is clear. You can either say he asked me why I don't work or he asked my why I didn't work. But in this case, the negative is required just to invoke the auxiliary don't.
    – Schwale
    Feb 23, 2016 at 14:29

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