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Contractions (Interrogative form)

 

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  #1  
Old November 13, 2013, 06:00 AM
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Contractions (Interrogative form)

Hey guys, nice talking to you.

These days we've reviewed the Present Perfect tense at the university, and a question came to my mind: Why do you always have to contract the negative interrogative form? And I also wondered this about the other tenses.

Some examples:
- Don't they play soccer?
- Aren't you going shopping?
- Didn't we go to the gig?
- Wasn't she drinking coffee?
- Haven't you done the homework?
- Hadn't she had a blue car?
Etc., etc.

And what I wonder is whether you can separate the auxiliary from the 'not', and if that cannot be possible, I'd like to know why.
I asked my 'Anglophone language and culture' teacher and he told me that cannot be possible, but I don't know why.

Also, I found this sentence on the internet (a song lyric):
Has he not crossed the seven seas (notice it's not interrogative) and I also asked my teacher about this and he told me it was an inversion, and I'd also like to know what it is.

Thanks a lot for your help
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  #2  
Old November 13, 2013, 06:16 AM
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Perikles Perikles is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AMG View Post
Hey guys, nice talking to you.

These days we've reviewed the Present Perfect tense at the university, and a question came to my mind: Why do you always have to contract the negative interrogative form? And I also wondered this about the other tenses.

Some examples:
- Don't they play soccer? Do they not play football?
- Aren't you going shopping? Are you not going shopping?
- Didn't we go to the gig? Did we not go to the gig?
- Wasn't she drinking coffee? ..............etc.
- Haven't you done the homework?
- Hadn't she had a blue car?
Etc., etc.

And what I wonder is whether you can separate the auxiliary from the 'not', and if that cannot be possible, I'd like to know why.
I asked my 'Anglophone language and culture' teacher and he told me that cannot be possible, but I don't know why.
I say you can separate them, but it's not usual. The contraction of the negative is the usual form, but it is certainly not obligatory. If you don't, it might sound awkward, but it can be used as being emphatic.

This most certainly true for BrE anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AMG View Post
Has he not crossed the seven seas (notice it's not interrogative) and I also asked my teacher about this and he told me it was an inversion,
If your teacher thinks that it means "He has not crossed the seven seas" then your teacher is wrong. I think it means the opposite and is a rhetorical question (which should have a ?) to express the fact that he has indeed crossed all seven seas.

I'm not sure what he means by an inversion; clearly Has he not is He has not inverted, but so what? It has the opposite meaning
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  #3  
Old November 13, 2013, 06:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AMG View Post
Hey guys, nice talking to you.

These days we've reviewed the Present Perfect tense at the university, and a question came to my mind: Why do you always have to contract the negative interrogative form? And I also wondered this about the other tenses.

Some examples:
- Don't they play soccer?
- Aren't you going shopping?
- Didn't we go to the gig?
- Wasn't she drinking coffee?
- Haven't you done the homework?
- Hadn't she had a blue car?
Etc., etc.

And what I wonder is whether you can separate the auxiliary from the 'not', and if that cannot be possible, I'd like to know why.
I asked my 'Anglophone language and culture' teacher and he told me that cannot be possible, but I don't know why.

Also, I found this sentence on the internet (a song lyric):
Has he not crossed the seven seas (notice it's not interrogative) and I also asked my teacher about this and he told me it was an inversion, and I'd also like to know what it is.

Thanks a lot for your help
Just in agreement with Perikles--and perhaps clarification. At least I hope so.
Don't they play soccer? You can say: Do they not play soccer? The meaning is slightly different. Do they not play soccer? is very emphatic or hyperbolic, and because of that, less used, and as Perikles states often used in a rhetorical argument. All the examples you present can be used the same way I illustrated without the contraction. If you use it that way a lot you run the risk of sounding like you are on stage.
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Old November 13, 2013, 05:38 PM
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This may be one of the few examples of subjunctive mood in English. When the words are separated, it feels more accusatory.

Didn't you lock the door? (I'm mainly asking about the state of the lock... everyone makes mistakes once in a while. Maybe you did lock it, and somebody else was here and unlocked it.)

Did you not lock the door? (Were you so stupid as to forget to lock it? I do not like reminding you.)

Last edited by Mozzo; November 13, 2013 at 05:43 PM.
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  #5  
Old November 14, 2013, 03:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mozzo View Post
This may be one of the few examples of subjunctive mood in English. When the words are separated, it feels more accusatory.

Didn't you lock the door?
I can't really agree with that, although I think I know what you are getting at. The verb has 5 different moods: indicative; subjunctive; imperative; conditional and interrogative. (Other moods such as optative have been absorbed into the subjunctive.) There can be only one mood in any one incident of a verb, and the above is clearly interrogative.
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Old November 14, 2013, 06:10 AM
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I slept on this and I think you are right. It is not truly a change in mood, but it is a slight alteration of word order. As any student of English knows, word order is very structured in the language. Minor changes can shift the emphasis or create a subtle implied message.

I do think the contraction is simply a convenience when discussing something non-human, and a situation neither the speaker nor listener can affect.

"Doesn't the #3 bus go to Brookshire?"
"Does not the #3 bus go to Brookshire?" -or- "Does the #3 bus not go to Brookshire?"

In all those examples I am asking someone to confirm my assumption. I don't sense any meaningful change in subtext.

Last edited by Mozzo; November 14, 2013 at 06:23 AM.
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  #7  
Old November 14, 2013, 12:00 PM
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The subjunctive in English can be frequently found in the verb to be.
Most commonly you will hear it this way: If I were you/If I were rich/If I weren't so lazu, I would...
Also this way: I like all music be it classical of pop.
In African-American English dialect: It be hot in July.
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