How I Can or How Can I? Which is correct?

“How can I” is the correct structure when you are asking a direct question. When asking a direct question you always change the order of the subject and the main verb

“… I can” could also be correct if the question is an indirect question. An indirect question has some additional words before  “how I can” and is a way to be more polite in English.


How can I open this door?

Would it be possible for you to tell me how I can open this door?

Notice that both examples have the same intention but the second example adds extra information. 

How can I?

“How can I?” is correct when it comes at the beginning of the sentence.


How can I find some meat for my taco?

How can I take the train?

How can I start a business?

How can I buy some beer if I have no ID?

How can I find a nice girl?

How can I work now with that baby crying?

How can I dance the Tango?

The above examples are in the normal structure of interrogative sentences

Question Word Auxiliary Verb Subject Main Verb Rest of sentence






How I can?

“How I can” is correct when it forms part of an indirect sentence.


Do you know how I code this script? 

Can you tell me how I can find a nice girl?

Do you mind telling me how I can find the tennis court?

Could you tell me how can I fix my phone?

Would it be possible to know how can I see a doctor?

Indirect Questions

If a question is open or closed, it is usually a direct question and an interrogative sentence(you use a question mark). An indirect question is when a question is part of a larger sentence. You need to use a question mark only when the sentence starts with a question asking word(do, can, would, etc)

Direct Question Indirect question

What time is it?

Do you know what time it is?

Where is the shopping center?

Can you tell me where the shopping center is?

Who took the money?

I don’t know who took the money.