clauses: short forms

 

A: Short forms as answers

1. We often use short forms to answer questions. Usually we repeat the first word of the verb phrase:

A: Can you come round tomorrow?
B: Yes, I can/ No I can’t.

A: Have you seen Jack lately?
B: Yes, I have/No I haven’t.

A: Do you like living here?
B: Yes, I do/ No I don’t.

Sometimes we change the modal verb: (see Verb Phrase)

A: Will you come?
B: Yes, we might.

A: Do you think they might come?
B: Yes, I think they will.

2. We often use verbs like think, suppose, expect and hope, to answer questions.

  • when the answer is yes we add so (I expect so, I hope so, etc.).
  • if the answer is no we say I don’t think so, I don’t suppose so, etc..
  • but with hope we say I hope not.

A: Can you come tomorrow?
B: I hope so.

A: Will they be at home?
B: I expect so.

A: Is Amsterdam the capital of the Netherlands?
B: I don’t think so.

A: Do you think it’s going to rain?
B: I hope not.

3. We often use adverbials of probability like perhaps, probably, possibly, maybe, definitely and certainly as short answers:

A: Do you think it’s going to rain?
B: Yes, possibly.

A: Can you come round tomorrow?
B: Definitely!

When the answer is negative we put not after the adverbial:

A: Do you think it’s going to rain?
B: Probably not.

A: Can you come round tomorrow?
B: Maybe not.

4. We can use short forms to agree or disagree with what someone says. Usually we use the first word in the verb phrase:

A: It’s a lovely day.
B: Yes, it is.

A: I think they might have missed their train.
B: Yes, I think they might.

A: The children will be coming to see us next week.
B: No they won’t. They are going to their grandparents.

Sometimes we change the modal:

A: The children will be coming to see us next week.
B: Yes, they might.

A: The children might be coming to see us next week.
B: No they won’t. They are going to their grandparents.

We use do/does//don’t/doesn’t to agree or disagree with a statement in the present simple form:

A: Your grandmother looks very well.
B: Yes, she does.

A: I think Jack lives here.
B: No he doesn’t

…and we use did/didn’t for past simple:

A: Everybody really enjoyed the trip.
B: Yes, they did.

A: The children went to Malaysia last year.
B: No they didn’t. They went to Singapore.

5. We sometimes put a short tag at the end of a comment. We use a Yes/No question form for the tag. If the comment is affirmative we normally use a negative tag:

A: It’s a lovely day.
B: Yes, it is, isn’t it.

A: Your grandmother looks very well.
B: Yes, she does, doesn’t she.

A: Everybody really enjoyed the trip.
B: Yes, they did, didn’t they.

If the comment is negative we normally use an affirmative tag:

A: They didn’t seem to enjoy the trip very much.
B: They didn’t, did they.

A: It’s not a very nice day.
B: No, it isn’t, is it.

A: They haven’t done much.
B: No, they haven’t, have they.

6. Sometimes we put a tag on the end of a statement:

It’s a lovely day, isn’t it?
Your grandmother looks very well, doesn’t she?
They haven’t done much, have they?
They all seemed to enjoy the trip, didn’t they?

7 We use affirmative tags with so and neither or nor to add to what someone has said.

We use so to add to an affirmative:

A: John is working in Barcelona.
B: And so is Maria [= Maria is working in Barcelona, too.]

A: I love Indian food.
B: So do I = [I love Indian food, too.]

A: They’ve just bought a new computer.
B: Really? So have we. [= We have also bought a new computer.]

We use neither or nor to add to a negative:

A: I don’t smoke any more.
B: Neither do I. [= I also don’t smoke]

A: They haven’t written to us for ages.
B: Nor has Peter. [= Peter hasn’t written to us for ages, too.]

A: We won’t be taking a holiday this year.
B: Neither will we. [= We also won’t be taking a holiday this year.]

A: I never have time for breakfast.
B: Nor have I. [= I am as busy as you]

Fill in the gaps with the words from the box.

B: Short forms for questions

1. We often use short forms to ask questions when we want some more information;

A: I’ll see you on Monday.
B: What time?

A: We are going on holiday next week.
B: Where?

A: You can get a new computer very cheaply.
B: How?

If we want to be more polite we can use a longer question:

A: I’m going to London on Monday.
B: What time are you going?

A: We are going on holiday next week.
B: Where are you going?

A: You can get a new computer very cheaply.
B: How can I do that?

2. We often use questions with What about… or How about … to refer back to what someone has said:

A: I love the Beatles. What about you?
B: Yes, I love their music too.

A: Your father seems to be working hard. What about your mother?
B: Yes she’s working hard too?

A: I’m exhausted. How about you?
B: No, I’m fine.

A: I really enjoyed the film. How about you?
B: No, I didn’t like it very much.

3. We use short questions to check what someone has said:

A: George phoned last week.
B: Did he?

A: They’ve just had a baby.
B: Have they?

A: He’ll be here soon.
B: Will he?

Fill in the gaps with the words from the box.

 C. Leaving words out

1. When we are speaking we sometimes leave words out if our meaning is still clear:

We could use any of these to offer someone a cup of coffee:

Would you like a cup of coffee?
You like a cup of coffee?
Like a cup of coffee?
A cup of coffee?
Cup of coffee?
Coffee?

And someone could reply:

Yes, please. I would like a cup.
Yes, please. I would.
Yes please.
Please.

2. We often leave words out if we think they are just repeating things that don't need repeating:

I asked him to come but he wouldn’t. = ... he wouldn’t come.
Jack wanted to come but Jill didn’t. = ... Jill didn’t want to come.
Jack can come but Jill can’t. = ... Jill can’t come.
I asked him to come but he didn’t want to. = ... he didn’t want to come.
He didn’t come even though she asked him to. = ... she asked him to come.

3. We leave words out in compound sentences if we think people will still understand the idea:

  • He opened the door and went in
    = He opened the door and he went in.
  • They play billiards, but not snooker
    = They play billiards but they do not play snooker.
  • I know George, but not his brother
    = I know George, but I do not know his brother.
  • She likes Indian food, but not Chinese
    = She likes Indian food, but she does not like Chinese food.

 

Comments

In paragrapf three speaks thar we leave words out in compound sentences if we think people will still understand the idea, as de subject for example
What occasions is this possible?

Hi marilo reglado,

Part 3 above explains that these adverbs are used when answering questions. These are yes/no questions. Is that what you mean?

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I think there's a mistake: A: Your father seems to be working hard. What about your mother?
B: Yes she’s working hard too?

And a question: is there a difference berween "What for?" and "For what?" or "Who with?" and "With who?" ?

Hello nopainnogain,

The exchange you query looks fine to me, and is quite a natural exchange in English.

'What for' means 'why' or 'for what reason'.  'For what' means the same but is much less common in modern English and can sound rather archaic in some contexts.  The same is true for 'who with' (more common) and 'with who [or whom]' (less common).

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi AdamJK,
I want to know what are the other courses you have in British council for a trainer like me. Presently I am doing the Cambridge International Diploma for teachers and Trainers (CIDTT) in India through Srikriti-Chennai.
 
Its really too good.

5. We sometimes put a short tag at the end of a comment. We use a Yes/No question form for the tag. If the comment is affirmative we normally use a negative tag:
A: It’s a lovely day.
B: Yes, it is, isn’t it.
A: Your grandmother looks very well.
B: Yes, she does, doesn’t she.
A: Everybody really enjoyed the trip.
B: Yes, they did, didn’t they.
If the comment is negative we normally use an affirmative tag:
A: They didn’t seem to enjoy the trip very much.
B: They didn’t, did they.

A: It’s not a very nice day.
B: No, it isn’t, is it.

A: They haven’t done much.
B: No, they haven’t, have they.
 
I was wondering if at the of the clause we have to use the ? (interrogation)?
Example: No, they haven't, have they?

Hi Lara,
I think the distinction is between question tags used for emphasis as in section A5 and those used to make a genuine question, as in section A6. However, I will email the author to check!
Best wishes,
Adam
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Adam,
Might I assume your answer dated on 23 November, 2010 to Lara is conclusive?
Thanks a lot for your kind reply,
Oscarcit12

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