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

Dear Team,

I have a couple of questions in relation to the topic. Are the following responses valid?

Person A: I have to work over the weekend.
Person B: Do you? (Or should it be - Do you have to?)

Person A: I must work over the weekend.
Person B: must you?

Many thanks in advance.

Hello anyrban,

Yes, those are the correct short forms ('Do you?' and 'Must you?').

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello dear BC team,
I have got some questions related to this topic.
1. What is the difference between "what about" and "how about". Are they used interchangeably?
A: I love the Beatles. What about you?
B: Yes, I love their music too.

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

2. Could you please clarify to me the question "What as" in the sentence "They are going to a fancy dress party.

3. I suppose the right shape for short questions is "WH... plus preposition" (who from, who with, when by). However there is one short question which is different: "For how many". Could we rearange in the same position like all above short questions?

Thank you in advance!

Hello andeo,

In answer to your questions:

1. Yes, in most contexts these are interchangeable.

2. 'What as?' here means 'What are they dressed as?' Obviously, at a fancy dress party people go dressed as different characters, and this question asks about their choice of character.

3. You can say 'For how many?' but you can also say 'How many for?' Similarly, we can say 'Who for?' and 'For whom?', 'Where to?' and 'To where?' etc. The option with the preposition at the end is generally more common.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Dear Sir,

What is the best short form for : It has not been a good week?
Could it be :
1) It's not been a good week, or;
2) It hasn't been a good week.
3) Both previous two cases are viable.

Hello ahedmoussa,

Both of these alternatives are fine.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
Help me please with the following sentence.

I hate fish. What answer should be here? So do I or Neither do I.

Thanks in advance,
Ann

Hello aelitka,

'so' + auxiliary + subject is used to agree with affirmative statements, and 'neither' + auxiliary + subject is used to agree with negative statements. 'I hate fish' is an affirmative statement (i.e. the verb is grammatically positive, not negative), so 'so do I' is the correct option here.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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?

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