intonation : What have you done to prepare for the seminar?

< Previous | Next >


Senior Member
Hello, everyone.

I was wondering if the meaing of the following sentence could be changed according to the intonation.

What have you done to prepare for the seminar?

Is the sentence possible to have a meaning that I think you have done nothing for the seminar if we change the emphasis? If so, what words do we put the emphasis on? If not, how can we make a question with a rebuke or a reprimand for the situation?

Many thanks in advance.
  • GMF1991

    Senior Member
    English (UK, Suffolk)
    I think that if you put the emphasis on "you" then it adds a doubt that you have done anything to prepare, or at least not as much as the person asking the question.

    An example of use:

    "I've been doing revision for days and even made a huge information wallchart to learn from. What have you done to prepare for the exam?"
    (when emphasis is put on the "you" then it means that the person doubts that you did anywhere near as much as they did.)

    I hope that this helps :)


    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    There are many ways of issuing a kind of rebuke. GMF gives you one way of doing it.

    Your sentence could also be a rhetorical question when it is obvious that the hearer has not done much. The intonation for that is to start high ('What'), stay in middle tone and end low ('seminar'). The high 'what', gives emphasis to that word.


    Senior Member
    English (UK, Suffolk)
    Another thought has come to mind. If you emphasise "have" in certain contexts then it can have a similar meaning:

    "Have you done question 1?"
    "Ok, have you done questions 2 and 3?"
    "What have you done then?"

    This also shows a doubt that anything has been done. :)
    < Previous | Next >