Short forms

Level: beginner

Short 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 verb:

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

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

  1. We often use verbs like thinksupposeexpect and hope to answer questions. When the answer is positive, we add so:

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

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

When the answer is negative, we use don’t and so:

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

but with hope we use not:

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

  1. 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.

Short answers

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Agreeing and disagreeing

  1. We can use short forms to agree or disagree with what someone says. Usually we repeat the first word of 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're going to their grandparents'.

Sometimes we change the verb:

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're going to their grandparents'.

We use do/does/don't/doesn't to agree or disagree with statements in the present simple:

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 the 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.

Agreeing and disagreeing 1

ex. Agreeing and disagreeing 1

Agreeing and disagreeing 2

ex. Agreeing and disagreeing 2

Tags

  1. We sometimes put a short tag at the end of an agreeing comment. We use a Yes/No question form for the tag. If the comment is positive, 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 a positive tag:

A: They didn't seem to enjoy the trip very much.
B: No, 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?

  1. Sometimes we put a tag at 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?

Tags 1

ex. Tags 1

Tags 2

ex. Tags 2

so and neither/nor

  1. We use so and neither/nor to add to what other people say. We use so to add to a positive statement:

A: John is working in Barcelona.
B: So is Maria.  (= Maria is working in Barcelona too.)

A: I love Indian food.
B: Yes, so do I.  (= I love Indian food too.)

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

We use neither or nor to add to a negative statement:

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.)

so and neither/nor 1

ex. so and neither / nor 1

so and neither/nor 2

ex. so and neither / nor 2

Short questions

  1. We often use short forms to ask questions when we want 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?

  1. We often use questions with What about … or How about … to refer back to what we’ve just said:

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

A: Your father seems well. What about your mother?
B: Yes, she's fine 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.

  1. We can use echo questions to check what someone has just said. In this kind of question, we repeat the first word of the verb phrase:

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

A: He'll be here soon.
B: Will he?

or we use do/does/did:

A: Sophie wants to move to another school.
B: Does she?

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

Short questions 1

ex. Short questions 1

Short questions 2

ex. Short questions 2

Leaving words out

  1. When we speak, we can often leave words out if our meaning is still clear. For example, 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.

  1. We often leave words out to avoid unnecessary repetition:

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

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

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Submitted by Elena Ita on Tue, 12/03/2024 - 10:03

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Hi, can you please tell me if "I've a sister" is correct? I would say "I've got a sister" or "I have a sister", but I'm not sure if also the first alternative is correct.

Thank you!

Hi Elena Ita,

It is correct! But I would say that it's less commonly used than the other alternatives you mentioned. The short form "I've" is more common when "have" is an auxiliary verb rather than a main verb.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Sokhomkim on Thu, 24/08/2023 - 10:07

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Hello, Sir
I was wondering which one is correct.
e.g., He rarely/seldom drinks beer and ...
a. so do I.
b. neither do I.
I think "b" is probably right because "seldom" and "rarely" are negative words.
Thank you for your time.
Best Wishes!

Hi Sokhomkim,

Yes, right. Answer b is the right one, for the reason that you pointed out.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by banafshe on Fri, 30/06/2023 - 13:18

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Hello great team.
Can we use verbs like think/expect/hope + so to agree with what someone says?
For example:
A: It's a lovely day.
B: yes, it is.(agreement)
Can we say "yes, I think so" instead of "yes it is" as an agreement with what someone says, or this construction is only used in the respond to a question like "Is it a lovely day?"
And, can we say "I hope so" because we don't know what would happen during the day and we wish that it would be a lovely day.
Thank you so much for your help.

Hello banafshe,

Saying 'I think so' or 'I suppose so' in response to questions can show a little doubt on the part of the speaker. So, while you could respond to the statement 'It's a lovely day' by saying 'Yes, I think so', it's different from saying 'Yes, it is'. The latter shows agreement, whereas the former shows tentative agreement, which might be odd (though not necessarily) in response to such a statement.

If you said 'I hope so' in response, it suggests doubt as well. Perhaps you saw a forecast that called for rain, or perhaps you can see clouds in the distance, for example, but in any case you're not really agreeing with the statement.

In point 2 of the Short answers section above, note that most of the sentences are questions about the future. In the case of the one that is not (about Amsterdam), saying 'I don't think so' is a less direct and therefore more polite way of saying 'I think it's something else' or 'I think you're wrong'.

Did this help you? I hope so, but please feel free to continue your questions if you have any.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

 

Submitted by howtosay_ on Sun, 22/01/2023 - 01:04

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Hello?

Could you please say if the following sounds correct and natural:

- Are you nervous?
- Now - no.

Is that possible or "I am not now" is a better variant?

Thank you so much for your time and help and I am grateful for your answering this post beforehand!!!

Hello howtosay_,

You can say that in an informal context. I would understand it to mean that you were nervous but are feeling more confident now. 'I am not now' doesn't sound very natural to me, though it would be understood.

I think the most natural responses would be 'Not any more' or 'I was, but not now'.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Samin on Wed, 01/09/2021 - 07:49

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Hello team please clarify..What is the subject here Let me tell you this. me or unseen you Let us all be friends. Subject- us? Nobody liked the movie. Subject- Nobody or the movie?

Hello Samin,

The verb phrases in the first two sentences are imperative forms, which are forms we use to make suggestions or commands. Imperative verbs generally tell someone to do something, so technically they don't have subjects.

For example, in 'let me tell you this', I'm telling the other person to allow me to speak, but there is no subject. In 'let us all be friends', I'm telling everyone listening to me that we should be friends; again, there is no subject.

In the last sentence, 'nobody' is the subject of the verb 'liked'.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Samin on Sat, 28/08/2021 - 14:23

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What is the difference between these two sentences Has she a house? Does he have a car? Are they grammatically correct

Hello Samin,

In modern English when have is used as a main verb (not as an auxiliary) we make questions with do or did, so I would say that the second sentence is the standard form.

 

The first sentence uses inversion to form the question. Which this is not strictly incorrect in my view it is non-standard in modern English and is found really only in certain rhetorical devices.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team