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  1. Where are we?
  2. Where we are?

Which one of the above QUESTION is correct?

  1. I want to know where in the hell are we.
  2. I want to know where in the hell we are.

Which one of the above STATEMENT is correct?

In the internet, I see both usages in both cases (statement and question). All of them are correct? If not, why?

  • 1
    It's irrelevant to the question itself, but where in the hell are isn't a standard idiomatic usage. By far the most common form is where the hell are, and a distant second is where in hell are. Using both prepositions in and the sounds decidedly odd to me. – FumbleFingers Aug 26 '13 at 20:54
  • @FumbleFingers: Actually, that's an AmE thing, I think. Check out this Ngram, then change the corpus to British English. You'll see the blue line flatten. The more wordy "Where in the hell are we?" does get asked here in the US, even in print. – J.R. Aug 27 '13 at 7:55
  • @J.R.: oic. So where in the hell sounds much more "weird" to me because Brits virtually never use it. But given that it didn't originally exist in AmE either, I still think it's probably down to "not-quite-native-speakers" conflating what were originally two distinct idiomatic forms. After enough mis-repeatings, I guess it wouldn't sound so odd. – FumbleFingers Aug 27 '13 at 17:10
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This can be tricky, because of all the variations one can use for a short statement like the ones you are asking about.

For example, if the question is asked as a standalone 3-word question, always use:

Where are we?

However, if the phrase is used as a clause at the end of a question, one would say:

Does anybody know where we are?

As for your two statements, either wording can be correct, depending on how you use punctuation:

I want to know, "Where in the hell are we?"
I want to know where in the hell we are!

1

In English, normal form is Subject-Verb for a statement, and Verb-Subject for a question.

Thus:

Where are(V) we(S)?

Is the correct form for the question, and

I want to know where in the hell we(S) are(V).

is correct for the statement.

  • 2
    But it should be noted that quite often native speakers will combine the two as in: "What I want to know is, 'Where the hell are we?'" essentially embedding the question inside the statement. – Jim Aug 26 '13 at 6:04

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