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Tag questions: You guys don't happen to have seen a guy ..., do you? (and similar sentences)

Discussion in 'English Only' started by HSS, Jun 29, 2012.

  1. HSS

    HSS Senior Member

    Sendai, Japan
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Hi, owlman.

    I just wondered if the following tag questions (A1tag through B2tag) are essentially the same as their respective counterparts (A1 through B2) if they carry a rising inflection. (Questions A1 to B2 have a rising inflection, don't they? Or so I heard used in the drama)

    (A1tag) You guys don't happen to have seen a guy ..., do you?
    (A2tag) You guys wouldn't happen to have seen a guy ..., would you?
    (B1tag) You guys didn't happen to see a guy ..., did you?
    (B2tag) You guys wouldn't have happened to see a guy ..., would you?

    (A1) You guys don't happen to have seen a guy ...?
    (A2) You guys wouldn't happen to have seen a guy ...?
    (B1) You guys didn't happen to see a guy ...?
    (B2) You guys wouldn't have happened to see a guy ...?
     
  2. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    Hello, Hiro.

    As you already know, (A1) sounds wrong because of "don't". I'd imagine that the tag would be "did you"? If the speaker was confused or distracted, he might continue with "don't you"? The tag questions would typically be asked with a rising inflection.

    A2 through B2 would likely be followed with the ordinary tags you used in the first set. Repeating the auxiliary or modal used in the statement is the ordinary thing to do.
     
  3. HSS

    HSS Senior Member

    Sendai, Japan
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    No, I didn't know it. Is that wrong?

    So, my tags there, are they correct?

    Well, my query actually was if the negated sentences with a question mark and their counterparts with the tags are essentially the same in meaning ....
     
  4. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hi Hiro

    I don't know what owlman means about the "don't" in A1 being wrong: it looks fine to me....

    As to your question: yes, I'd say the tag versions and the rising intonation versions are essentially the same in terms of meaning/overtones.
     
  5. HSS

    HSS Senior Member

    Sendai, Japan
    Standard Japanese, Sendaian Japanese
    Good evening here, good afternoon there, Loob.

    Thanks for your input on the two forms. Much appreciated.:)

    Hiro
     
  6. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    Hi, Loob. Would you really use "You guys don't happen to have seen a guy with a blue mohawk run through here, don't you/did you?" when you are asking somebody about an event that happened in the past? I sure wouldn't. "You guys didn't happen to see a guy with a blue mohawk run through here, did you?" - that sounds like an ordinary question. The "don't" version sounds like confusion or a mistake to me.
     
  7. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hi owlman

    I wouldn't use your formulation, no; but I would say "You guys don't happen to have seen a guy with a blue mohawk run through here, do you?"
     
  8. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    The tag question comes after so many intervening words that by the time you get there you have already forgotten the beginning and, therefore, the right form for the question tag. The same goes for your listener. :D I would probably not notice if someone said, in a sentence like A1, 'have you' instead of 'do you'. At least not immediately. Although I agree with Loob, of course, that 'do you' is the right question tag here.
     
  9. Giorgio Spizzi Senior Member

    Italian
    For what it's worth, I couldn't agree with Loob more.

    GS :)
     
  10. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    I sure hate to disagree with all my learned colleagues, but I'd keep "do" in the past when I was asking about something in the past. Using "do" doesn't help matters when you want to know where that guy with the blue mohawk went. Although this thread was split off from the original question, the whole statement was so odd and wordy that I don't recall ever hearing anything quite like it before.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2012
  11. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hi again owlman!

    The "pastness" (sic:D) of A1 resides in the perfect infinitive to have seen. There's no need to put the "do" into the past, whether in the main statement or in the tag question.

    If what you're saying is that you would prefer You didn't happen to see X [did you]? over You don't happen to have seen X [do you]? then I don't have a difficulty with that.

    I think I could say either, though:cool:.
     
  12. boozer Senior Member

    Bulgaria
    Bulgarian
    Another thought - there is no doubt as to the residence of the pastness, indeed. :) However, we cannot be sure just what kind of pastness it is:
    You did not see, did you? - then, we want to introduce an element of luck - You don't happen to have seen............, do you?
    You have not seen, have you - again, the element of pure chance with 'happen' - You don't happen to have seen................, do you?


    So, what kind of pastness is that - is it the pastness of past simple or the one of present perfect? :D I argue we cannot be sure. If it is present perfect, then 'did you' would be even less warranted.

    The safest bet would be 'do you' but I emphatically repeat that I personally would not be surprised to hear other question tags depending on what the speaker is actually thinking. Especially in such a long sentence...
     
  13. xqby

    xqby Senior Member

    Santa Maria, CA
    English (U.S.)
    This may be an AmE thing, because I agree with Monsieur Owl. A1 sounds kind of odd to me.
     
  14. Syzygy Senior Member

    German
    I'm not a native but I would rather have expected "have you" here.
    Does this mean that it's more common/preferable to answer the question "Do you happen to have seen XYZ?" with "I do." (instead of "I have.")?
     
  15. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Actually, I wouldn't expect either "I do" or "I have". I'd expect something like "Yes, I did see someone a bit like that when I was..." or "No, sorry, I haven't seen anyone like that".

    (None of this tells you what the appropriate tag question is:).)
     
  16. owlman5

    owlman5 Senior Member

    Colorado
    English-US
    I'm with Loob on this one, Syzygy. Actually, I'd be grateful for any answer I got after asking such a needlessly convoluted question. I think the theoretical answer would be "I do", but you might just prefer to start edging toward the nearest exit. "I have" should also work fine if you ever find yourself having to answer something like this.
     

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