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auxiliary verbs
 

Auxiliary verbs - sounding interested

 
 
 

Grammatical form

auxiliary + subject + ?

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

'We saw a great film last night.'
'Did you? What was it?'

 
 

 

General usage

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 and question tags

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

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

'I'm so tired today.'
'Are you?'

'I don't like this cold weather.'
'Don't you?'

 

Intonation in short questions.

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.

'I'm going to the pub after work.'
'Are you? Can I come too?'

I bought a new computer at the weekend.
'Did you? That's nice.'

In the second example, a falling or flat intonation with the follow up That's nice suggests the second speaker is uninterested or busy and wouldn't encourage the first speaker to say more.

ESL lesson plans

How Donald Trump got rich: a tale of three Trumps

US Election ESL worksheet 1 Donald Trump ESL worksheet 2 Donald Trump worksheet 3 Donald Trump ESL worksheet 4 Donald Trump ESL worksheet 5 Donald Trump ESL worksheet 6
B1 / B2 Complete lesson Skills: split reading; discussion; role play Vocabulary: business and economics

Download A Tale of Three Trumps for B1/B2 (PDF)
C1 Complete lesson Skills: split reading; discussion; Grammar: participle clauses

Download A Tale of Three Trumps for C1 (PDF)
 

US Election Special 2016

US Election ESL worksheet 1 US Election ESL worksheet 2 US Election ESL worksheet 3 US Election ESL worksheet 4
B2/C1 Complete lesson Vocabulary: politics, elections; skills: discussing elections and issues.

Download Politics and the US Election (PDF)
 

Wear high heels or go home: gender discrimination at work

Gender descrimination ESL worksheet 1 Gender descrimination ESL worksheet 2 Gender descrimination ESL worksheet 3
B2/C1 Complete lesson Vocabulary work clothes; skills: gender discrimination; grammar: reported speech.

Download Workplace gender discrimination (PDF)
 

English grammar notes

Comparison with as...as

Comprehensive grammar reference notes, illustrated.
Grammar notes on comparison with as..as 1 Grammar notes on comparison with as..as 2 Grammar notes on comparison with as..as 3
Download English grammar notes: comparison with as...as (PDF)