Not every sentence that sounds like a question ends with a question mark. Sentences that do end with question marks are called direct questions — they are sentences that we could ask someone. For example, “Lisa, where are the cookies?” is a direct question because it’s something that we could ask Lisa. Note, though, that there doesn’t need to be a listener present to hear the direct question. If Lucia is at home alone and scrambling to find her car keys so that she doesn’t get late for work, she could say the following out loud: “Where are my keys?” Even though no one is around to hear Lucia’s question, it’s still a direct question because it’s a question that Lucia could direct to a specific person if there was someone around.
Indirect questions, on the other hand, are not directed at a specific person. For example, “I wonder where the cookies are” and “I wonder where my keys are” are indirect questions. Instead of directing a question at someone, they describe something that the subject of the sentence is wondering about. Indirect questions end with periods.
See below for more examples of direct and indirect questions.
“Who has a copy of the report?” (direct)
“I wonder who has a copy of the report.” (indirect)
“When will our plane leave the gate?” (direct)
“I wonder when our plane will leave the gate.” (indirect)
“What will Sameer buy her?” (direct)
“I wonder what Sameer will buy her.” (indirect)
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