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Conversational Language (#1), by Dennis Oliver

 

 Conversational Language (#1)

The grammar used in written language and the grammar
used in conversational language are often quite different.
In fact, what's normal, common, and acceptable in spoken
language is often considered unacceptable in written
language. For that reason, we'll take a look, in the next
several Hints, at what some of these differences are.

 

1. Yes / No Questions

 

Written English

In written language, Yes / No ("simple") questions have
three forms:

BE + subject + other words?

Is anyone absent?
Are you hungry?
Are Joe and Bill brothers?
Was she at work today?
Were Jun's parents born in Japan?

AUXILIARY + subject + verb + other words?

Is anyone listening?
Are you feeling hungry?
Are Susie and Jill coming to the party?
Can you understand this?
Will you help me?
Should we stay or leave?
Has Fred's wife had her baby yet?
Have you seen that movie?
Have you had lunch yet?
Had they already left when you arrived?

Do / Does / Did + subject + verb + other words?

Do you understand me?
Does your apartment have air conditioning?
Did Joe call you last night?
Do you do your laundry more than once a week?
Did your brother do well on his exam?

 

Conversational English

In everyday conversation, Yes / No questions are often
"abbreviated" by omitting some of the words. The result
is sentences that are common, normal, and acceptable for
speaking, but not acceptable in writing. There are two
main ways that these "abbreviated" questions are made.
Here's one of them:

 

Omitting BE or the Auxiliary Verb

Examples:

Is anyone absent? ===> Anyone absent?

Are you hungry? ===> You hungry?

Was she at work today? ===> She at work today?

Is anyone listening? ===> Anyone listening?

Are you feeling hungry? ===> You feeling hungry?

Are Susie and Jill coming to the party? ===>
Susie and Jill coming to the party?

Has Fred's wife had her baby yet? ===?
Fred's wife had her baby yet?

Have you seen that movie? ===>
You seen that movie?

Have you had lunch yet? ===> You had lunch yet?

Had they already left when you arrived? ===>
They already left when you arrived?

Do you understand me? ===> You understand me?

Does your apartment have air conditioning? ===>
Your apartment have air conditioning?

Did Joe call you last night? ===> Joe call you
last night?

Do you do your laundry more than once a week? ===>
You do your laundry more than once a week?

Did your brother do well on his exam? ===>
Your brother do well on his exam?

 

_____________________________________________

 

Special Notes:

1.   Notice that BE, do, and have can be both
auxiliaries and main verbs.
     
2.   Notice that modal auxiliaries are not
used in the pattern noted above.
     
3.  

In "abbreviated" Yes / No questions, certain
auxiliaries are often contracted, but the subject
is omitted and only the contracted auxiliary
is heard:

Is anyone absent? ===> 's anyone absent?

Is anyone listening? ===> 's anyone listening?

Has Fred's wife had her baby yet? ===?
's Fred's wife had her baby yet?

Have you seen that movie? ===>
've you seen that movie?

Have you had lunch yet? ===>
've you had lunch yet?

Had they already left when you arrived? ===>
'd they already left when you arrived?

Does your apartment have air conditioning? ===>
's your apartment have air conditioning?

Did Joe call you last night? ===>
'd Joe call you last night?

Did your brother do well on his exam? ===>
'd your brother do well on his exam?

     
4.  

These contractions sometimes cause sound
changes--particularly for / d / and / z / when
they come before the / iú / sound:

'd your brother do well on his exam?
(/ d / + / iú / = / d3iú /) (d3 = j)

's your apartment have air conditioning?
(/ z / + / iú / = / 3iú /) (3 = zh)

     

Remember:

The contractions above and the questions with no
auxiliary are not acceptable in writing!

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