'already' in questions

AndrasBP

Senior Member
Hungarian
Hello,

A friend of mine is looking for a job.
Is it possible to say 'Has she already found a job?' to mean 'Has she found a job yet?'.
The first question sounds odd to me but I'm not sure if it's incorrect.
'Already' and 'yet' is confusing for Hungarian learners because it's often the same word in our language.
 
  • NLmarkSE

    Senior Member
    Dutch (the Nederlands)
    If you can "Has she already found a job?" It would mean that you are surprised that she has found a job so quickly. You would most likely use it a reply to someone telling you that she has indeed found a job.

    Otherwise you could just say "Has she found a job already?"
     

    AlabamaBoy

    Senior Member
    American English
    'Has she found a job yet? - Varies from neutral to slightly impatient. If you emphasize thet "yet" then it definitely becomes impatient. (Why hasn't she found a job yet?)

    "Has she already found a job?" - It sounds foreign, unless it is used to express surprise (surely not already?) The expectation is that it would have taken longer.
     

    AlabamaBoy

    Senior Member
    American English
    I meant that if you intend it as a real question in which "already" means "yet" it does sound as if a non-native has asked the question.

    If the question is rhetorical, then "already" sounds correct in English. In other words, you would only say this if you already know the answer is "yes" and you are making a comment on how quickly the job was found. (You can also contrive cases in which someone says "she is buying new clothes" and then you ask "Has she already found a job?" but this is a bit advanced for the student.)
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Already = in so short a time, etc.
    yet = even in so long a time, etc.

    Has she found a job already? -> Has she found a job in so short a time?
    Has she found a job yet? -> Has she found a job even in so long a time?

    Compare: A husband tells his wife he will go to a store 20km away: After 15 minutes, the husband phones his wife:
    H: "Ok, I'm at the store, did you want some milk?"
    W: "Oh! Are you already there?" = Are you there in so short a time?

    Or after 2 hours, the wife phones the husband:
    W:"Are you at the store?"
    H: "No, I'm not there yet, the road is blocked by an accident." = "No, I'm not there even though it has been a long time, ..."
     

    AlabamaBoy

    Senior Member
    American English
    Already = in so short a time, etc.
    yet = even in so long a time, etc.
    I want to caution the OP that this meaning is only in the case where "yet" is used in the answer, not the question. Otherwise this meaning would be very confusing. I believe the OP was interested in "yet" used in the question, because in some Romance languages and Hungarian, still, yet, already and even are frequently the same word and the different meanings are difficult to understand intuitively.

    Here are some further resources.
    http://www.eslconversationquestions.com/grammar/already-ever-yet/
    http://esl.about.com/od/common_mistakes/a/Already-And-Yet.htm
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/radio/specials/1139_gramchallenge31/
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Another situation where I would naturally say "Has she already found a job?" rather than "Has she found a job yet?" is if my context for asking is that I have a job I would like to offer to her.
     
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