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Conversational Language (#2), by Dennis Oliver

 

Conversational Language (#2)


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.

 

2. Yes / No Questions (more)

 

Written English

In written language, Yes / No ("simple") questions have
the forms BE + subject + other words, auxiliary +
subject + other words, and Do / Does / Did + subject
+ other words.

 

Conversational English

In everyday conversation, Yes / No questions are often
"abbreviated" by omitting some of the words. In the last
Hint, we saw that BE and some auxiliary verbs are
often omitted:

Is anyone absent? ===> Anyone absent?

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

Is anyone listening? ===> Anyone listening?

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

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

__________________________________________

 

In everday conversation, you may also hear Yes / No
questions in which both the auxiliary verb and the
subject are omitted--when the subject is you:

Are you hungry? ===> Hungry?

Are you feeling hungry? ===> Feeling hungry?

Do you understand this? ===> Understand this?

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

Did you eat lunch? ===> Eat lunch?

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

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

Have you got change for a dollar? ===>
Got change for a dollar??

This kind of "shortening" is most common with are, do,
did, and have, but it's sometimes heard with other auxiliaries.

 

_______________________________________________

 

Special Notes:

1.  

As noted before, the auxiliary might be
said, but only in very contracted form:

Do you understand this? ===>
'D you understand this?

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

Did you eat lunch? ===>
'D you eat lunch?

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

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

Have you got change for a dollar? ===>
'Ve you got change for a dollar??

Important: When this kind of "shortening"
happens with did, there is a sound change:
[Di]d + you ===> dzh. This sound change does
happen with do and have: Do you ===> Diú;
Have you ===> Viú.

     
2.  

Notice that this "abbreviation" is used with
you. When subjects are not you, they are usually
not omitted:

Are Joe and Bill brothers? ===> Joe and
Bill brothers?

Were Jun's parents born in Japan? ===>
Jun's parents born in Japan?

Is anyone listening? ===> Anyone listening?

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

Does Mahmoud speak French? ===>
Mahmoud speak French?

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

     
3.  

Auxiliaries other than is are, do, did, and have
are sometimes also omitted. When this happens,
the questions can be understood in several
different ways:

Understand me? = Do / Did / Can / Could you
understand me?

Help me? = Will / Would / Can / Could you help me?

 

 

Remember:

These "abbreviated" Yes / No questions are for speaking.
They're not acceptable in writing!

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