It's funny this movie, isn't it?

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MartinBR

New Member
Portuguese - Brazil
I could write "this movie is funny, isn't it?", but I'm wondering if "it's funny this movie, isn't it?", although unusual, is also grammatically correct. If not, why?

Thanks for the attention.
 
  • LisaPaloma

    Senior Member
    Am English - NC
    MartinBR,

    I think the problem is that "it's funny this movie..." has two subjects (not normal in English), and of course, in English we don't put the subject after the verb very often. We can say, "It's great that this movie was filmed in Antarctica," where a clause, "that this movie was filmed in Antarctica" is the same as the subject "it", but that may be because it's too awkward to put a clause before the verb. If Portuguese is like Spanish, it sounds normal to you because subjects can come after verbs in that language.
     

    Susan Y

    Senior Member
    British English
    I have to disagree with Pops and Lisa. Your sentence sounds perfectly normal and correct to me in spoken English. So you could certainly write it in an informal context, or when reporting speech. I think I'd be inclined to add a comma after "funny" though:

    "It's funny, this movie, isn't it?"
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    The comma gives us the clue about what you meant. Without the comma I would read it the same way pops91710 did, as a foreign-sounding phrase. In American English I would expect to hear: "This movie is funny, isn't it!" If I understand the intention, it's not really a question (along the lines of "Is this movie funny?").
     

    Susan Y

    Senior Member
    British English
    It just sounds backward [...] Maybe down-under it works:).
    Ha ha, I see what you did there, Pops.

    It's a construction I use fairly often, and i think it's fairly common in BE (even though I live down under at the moment, I still speak BE!). I agree it's not really a question and, indeed, I wouldn't always add "isn't it". Examples:

    It's pretty boring, this programme, isn't it? Think I'll go to bed.
    She's very bossy, your daughter!
    It's a bit salty, this soup.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    With the commas, they're all perfectly clear to me and I recognize the pattern. :) I associate it with British English.

    Without them, though, it looks very strange to me:

    It's pretty boring this programme, isn't it? Think I'll go to bed.
    She's very bossy your daughter!
    It's a bit salty this soup.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Just so that Susan doesn't feel alone, as the only BE voice so far: I find that construction perfectly natural, and I use it and hear it pretty often. But the commas are essential.

    I'd say that it's probably mostly used when the speaker starts out with an initially formed thought, such as "It's funny" (knowing what "it" means), and then instinctively adds an explanatory phrase ("this movie") for clarity.

    Maybe AmE speakers always think out their sentences in advance.;):p

    Ws:)
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    Maybe AmE speakers always think out their sentences in advance.;):p
    Sometimes a sentence comes out awkwardly because you're composing it as you go along, sure; you start with the pronoun "it" but then decide to clarify what you're talking about. Barring that, I don't think I would ever say anything like "She's pretty angry, my wife" or "It's really warm, that coat." This is a construction I hear a great deal, though, from native speakers of Romance languages, in whose mother tongues that ordering is actually the most normal way to arrange such a thought. Subject-final sentences are quite rare in English.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Just so that Susan doesn't feel alone, as the only BE voice so far: I find that construction perfectly natural, and I use it and hear it pretty often. But the commas are essential.

    I'd say that it's probably mostly used when the speaker starts out with an initially formed thought, such as "It's funny" (knowing what "it" means), and then instinctively adds an explanatory phrase ("this movie") for clarity.

    Maybe AmE speakers always think out their sentences in advance.;):p

    Ws:)
    Another supporting voice. I instinctively put in the comma in the "transcript" of a sentence in the making. We quite often have threads about such sentences, from transcripts of interviews, where the end of the sentence was not created when the beginning was spoken:D Of course, in writing it wouldn't do, unless to report such a speech:)

    Cross-posted.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    [...] This is a construction I hear a great deal, though, from native speakers of Romance languages, in whose mother tongues that ordering is actually the most normal way to arrange such a thought. [...]
    Good point, Glen. I often hear it, and use it, in French.
    Here is a previous thread on this construction, along with a fancy rhetorical term: :D

    Hyperbaton = apposition? [inversion normal word order]
    [...]
    Interesting thread, Cagey. Some of the examples there sound very 'Yodaesque', while others (particularly your lower-register examples) sound quite normal to me. However, I'm not sure the construction we have here is actually the same. Hyperbaton is the transposition of normal word order, and the examples in that other thread, and in other sources I've looked at, don't add extra words or punctuation.

    For example, Adriana's line, "Why should their liberty than ours be more?" is a transposition of "Why should their liberty be more than ours?": words are moved, nothing's added.

    If we take MartinBR's "This movie is funny", a hyperbaton could be "This movie funny is" or "Funny this movie is". But in "It's funny, this movie", we're adding "it" and a comma, so it's not a simple transposition. In fact (unlike the examples of hyperbaton) what we have is a form of apposition: "this movie" is in apposition to "it".

    That said, the strict word order for apposition is to place the two noun phrases next to each other: "It, this movie, is funny" (but that doesn't sound very idiomatic). So "It is funny, this movie" isn't a hyperbaton for "This movie is funny", but I suppose one could argue that it is a hyperbaton for the rather odd "It, this movie, is funny".

    So, to answer Martin's question, I'd say that "It's funny, this movie, isn't it?" is indeed grammatically correct, though I've no idea what a grammarian would call it! Perhaps we could coin a phrase: 'hyperbatonic apposition' maybe? ... or 'appositive hyperbaton'? :D

    Ws:)
     

    Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    As a case in point -- and I hope I'll be forgiven if I draw undue attention to the writer -- an Italian-speaking user just posted this question (color added):

    I would like to ask if it is correct the use of their characterization, including to in the following sentence: [some sentence.]

    As I said above, Romance languages naturally structure statements this way. English, by contrast, would have a strong, strong preference for putting "is correct" at the end of the clause. It's not hyperbaton here, because there's no intent to emphasize anything. Just an awkward-sounding sentence produced by importing a non-native speech pattern into English.
     
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