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English grammar notes - auxiliaries - sounding interested

 
 

auxiliary + subject + ?

Speaker 1 (S1)
Speaker 2 (S2)

S1: I'm so tired today.
S2: Are you? What have you been doing?

S1: We saw a great film last night.
S2: Did you? What was it?


 

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General usage

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We can use a short question with an auxiliary to show interest in what another person is saying and encourage them to tell us more. The function of this language is similar to expressions such as 'Really?' and 'Oh yes?'

 

Short questions vs question tags

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These short questions are different from question tags because:
a) Two people are speaking. The person using the short question is replying to somebody else
b) Short questions showing interest follow the same positive / negative pattern as the first speaker's statement (see below).


 

Grammatical positives and negatives

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Short questions showing interest follow the same positive / negative pattern as the first speaker's statement:

S1: I'm so tired today. (positive statement)
S2: Are you? (positive short question)

S1: I don't like this cold weather. (negative statement)
S2: Don't you? (negative short question)

 

Intonation in short questions.

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It is important that the intonation of the short question rises if you want to show interest in what the other person is saying (and sound polite).

S1: I'm going to the pub after work.
S2: Are you? (Interested - rising intonation). Can I come too?

S1: I bought a new computer at the weekend.
S2: Did you? (flat or falling intonation. Busy or not interested in computers)
That's nice.

S1: I bought a new computer at the weekend.
S2: Did you? (Interested - rising intonation - tell me more) What sort did you get?



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