A friend who is a Spanish native speaker said something like this to me recently (in English)
*He told her if she was Asian
That sentence would be fine if the verb were "ask", but "tell" cannot make clauses using if/whether. I thought it through further and I guess questioning verbs vs. telling verbs take this pattern, but was wondering if actually something quite different is going on here once I thought it through further. Take the following examples:
He told him that he wanted a sandwich / He told him he wanted a sandwich
She asked her if she wanted coffee / *She asked her she wanted coffee
This seems to indicate that while on the surface, the constructions look similar, actually something different is going on. In addition, there seems to be some constraints with the tense of verb in the clause of the second example with "if" ("that he wants" sounds better somehow than "if she wants") What is going on here exactly?
As a side note, my friend told me that the Spanish equivalent would be "le dije que si ella era asiatica" but he wasn't sure if this was fully grammatical in Spanish either.