positive or negative tag?

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courage

New Member
japanese
Hi, everyone

One of the ways to ask for confirmation is to add a tag such as "You don't like dogs, do you?" But is it all right to add a positive tag to a double negative sentence with a positive meaning? For example, "Hardly a day goes by without the media reporting the nuclear disaster(negative words: Hardly, without)."means"Almost every day the media report the nuclear disaster." Is it all right to say "Hardly a day goes by without the media reporting the nuclear disaster, does it?"?

Thanks in advance
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    That question sounds fine to me, Courage:

    Hardly a day goes by without the media reporting a nuclear disaster, does it?

    When speakers ask such questions, they generally expect their listeners to agree with them.
     

    maitp

    Member
    Vietnamese
    Hi, everyone

    One of the ways to ask for confirmation is to add a tag such as "You don't like dogs, do you?" But is it all right to add a positive tag to a double negative sentence with a positive meaning? For example, "Hardly a day goes by without the media reporting the nuclear disaster(negative words: Hardly, without)."means"Almost every day the media report the nuclear disaster." Is it all right to say "Hardly a day goes by without the media reporting the nuclear disaster, does it?"?

    Thanks in advance
    It's completely okay to add a positive tag to a double negative sentence with a positive meaning. You can not add negative tag to a double negative sentence because they have the same meaning...
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'Hardly' does count as a negative word in this respect, since it causes positive tags (as well as other properties such as causing inversion of subject and auxiliary, and selecting 'any' rather than 'some'):

    You hardly touched your dinner, did you?
    She scarcely noticed the difference, did she?

    But 'without' isn't negative in this sense:

    She went all day without eating, didn't she?
    You can survive without me, can't you?

    Likewise, other words that are negative in other ways nevertheless behave as positives in that they take negative tags:

    He denied stealing any of the money, didn't he?
    They refused ever to do it, didn't they?

    So I'm finding it difficult to construct a sentence that has two items that cause negative tags. 'Hardly' counts as one negative, and the tag is then positive 'does it' regardless of what else follows 'hardly'.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Hardly a day goes by that the media doesn't report a disaster, does it?

    However, I think putting the second negative into dependent clause takes it out of play, so it isn't really an example of a double negative. The basic structure is:
    Hardly a day goes by, does it?

    [Not to mention that we are unlikely to add a tag to that sentence, because it is too confusing.]
     

    WickedLady

    New Member
    Russia - Russian
    Can anyone explain why we use a positive tag here?

    - What a week, what a week...
    - Had a bad one too, have you?



    There is no negative words and no "hardly", so why?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I don't think the tense is different: "(You have) had a bad one too, have you?"

    A positive tag to a positive statement may show interest or surprise. "So you want to learn English, do you? I thought you had decided to learn French."
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    To return to the OP question,
    Is it all right to say "Hardly a day goes by without the media reporting the nuclear disaster, does it?"?
    I find myself wanting to "correct" it to "(There's) hardly a day goes by without the media reporting the nuclear disaster, is there?" Is it just me who finds that "does it?" jars slightly?:)

    I could rephrase the original sentence like this: Hardly a day goes by where the media doesn't report the nuclear disaster, does it? But then "Does it" would be the tag to "the media doesn't report". I think that's why I feel "does it" can't easily refer back to "Hardly a day goes by".
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Thank you Mr TT. I think your comment is an answer to my question, isn't it? You've convinced me that it is just me, anyway:rolleyes:.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Can anyone explain why we use a positive tag here?

    - What a week, what a week...
    - Had a bad one too, have you?
    I think of this as a case of of inversion (ie 'have you' has been moved to the end), or possibly of a 'right dislocation' (a structure from the clause is re-used at the end: 'You've had a bad one too, have you?'). It's found in statements too.

    - Had a bad week, I did.

    and it could just be just the subject that is dislocated.

    - They went shopping, Peter and Jane.
    - They went shopping, did Peter and Jane.
    - They went shopping, Peter and Jane did.
    - Went shopping, Peter and Jane did.

    These structures would be strange in written English, but they occur in speech not infrequently.
     
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