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grammar  >  auxiliary verbs - sounding interested




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.