Difference between "is it?" and "isn't it?"

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cheshire

Senior Member
Japanese
A.My roommate got angry at me for snorting.
B(1).So, the shoe is on the other foot now, is it?
B(2).So, the shoe is on the other foot now, isn't it?
I'd like to ask here the difference between B1 and B2. I think the speaker is more certain of what he is saying in B1 than in B2. Is it true?
 
  • elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I don't think the difference has to do with how certain the speaker is.

    (2) is a neutral formulation. As you probably know, a "tag phrase" (is that what they're called?) is usually negative if the verb in the main clause is positive, and vice versa.

    (1), to me, expresses a certain degree of annoyance and disapproval. The speaker is not pleased that the "shoe is on the other foot."
     

    roxcyn

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English [AmE]
    I'm agreeing with the above :)

    However if someone was angry, I would say that she would use the first one ;).
     

    cheshire

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thanks both of you!
    I have one more question.
    Let's inverse the logic, and what would you say to this?

    (3) This isn't the right choice, is it?
    (4) This isn't the right choice, isn't it?

    Do the logic you two have proposed for (1) and (2) also hold true in (3) and (4)?
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    (3) This isn't the right choice, is it?
    (4) This isn't the right choice, isn't it?
    I think you meant (4) to read: "This is the right choice, isn't it?" With that, I'd say yes, it holds true. :)

    (p.s. I believe you meant "let's invert the logic," not "inverse." "inverse" is an adjective.)
     

    cheshire

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thanks for correcting my mistake, JamesM.
    (4) This isn't the right choice, isn't it?
    Would you say this is a wrong or unheard sentence? The speaker is basically thinking "this isn't the right choice" but wants to know if the listener is of the same opinion.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    James, I don't think that Cheshire made a mistake. I think he/she was interested in knowing whether the distinction I made in post #2 would apply if the main verb were negative.

    I have to say, I don't think it quite works with a negative verb. You would have to use a positive tag phrase no matter what.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Would you say this is a wrong or unheard sentence? The speaker is basically thinking "this isn't the right choice" but wants to know if the listener is of the same opinion.
    Yes, I would say it is both wrong and unheard. "This isn't the right choice, is it?" actually includes the thought you mention above. The speaker is expecting the listener to respond, "No, it isn't." If the speaker were expecting a positive response, he or she would use the other sentence, "This is the right choice, isn't it?"

    The listener can respond positively or negatively to either sentence, but the selection of phrasing lets us know which answer the speaker is expecting.

    (Sorry if I mistook your sentence as a mistake if it was intentional. I just saw elroy's post. No offense intended. You aren't angry with me, are you? ;) )
     
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