tag question Be sure to turn off the lights,_______ ?

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Yichen

Senior Member
Chinese
Be sure to turn off the lights,_______ ?

I think the tag to this question may have a lot of forms,
1. will you?
2. would you?
3. could you?
4. can you?

Am I right?



Thank you.
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Yes, I think that all would do, although 'can you?' would be my last choice.

    1. will you turn off the lights?
    2. would you turn off the lights?
    3. could you turn off the lights?
    4. can you turn off the lights? = are you able to turn off the lights?
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Won't you for me too - I think the Be sure to ... requires it

    Afterthought for clarification:
    To use will you, I would have to make it Turn off the lights, will you.
     
    Last edited:

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I can imagine saying will you, Bibbles ~ but that would be more like a bad-tempered order than a polite request ... not really a question tag at all, in fact:
    Turn off the lights, will you!
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I can imagine saying will you, Bibbles ~ but that would be more like a bad-tempered order than a polite request ... not really a question tag at all, in fact:
    Turn off the lights, will you!
    Yes, I was thinking the same thing. For me the can/could options sound strange.
     

    SwissPete

    Senior Member
    Français (CH), AE (California)
    Going back to the original question
    Be sure to turn off the lights,_______ ?
    would OK be considered a tag question?

    "Be sure to turn off the lights, OK?"

    This has more to do with the definition of a tag question, by the way.
     

    Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    Can and could also sound nonsensical to me here.

    Would you and will you sound correct to me. However, to me (and this may be regional or even based on my particular family and friends!), both of those are most often used when you are annoyed, losing patience with the other person etc. "Will you" in particular is associated in my mind with exasperation:

    Remember to take out the trash, will you? (You always forget and it really annoys me.)
    Stop interrupting me, will you? (That's the fourth time you interrupted me and I'm really annoyed.)

    When not annoyed, I personally would mostly say as Pete suggests above: okay?

     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Going back to the original questionwould OK be considered a tag question?

    "Be sure to turn off the lights, OK?"

    This has more to do with the definition of a tag question, by the way.
    No doubt there are a variety of opinions on this, but I believe we call them 'tag questions' on the basis of their syntax: a tag question depends on a parallel construction; Turn off the lights, will you [turn off the lights]?

    I wouldn't call your added OK? a tag question nor right? in a question like: "The world is round, right?"
     
    From this thread, it would seem that in AE question tags do not take the opposite form of the grammatical construction used in the main clause, as it takes place in BrE.

    So far, most AE speakers suggested ", will you?" and most BrE speakers suggested ", won't you?". Would you confirm that there is a regional difference here? Or is it only a recent trend in modern AE (not to make the tag negative when the main clause is positive and vice versa)?
     

    Embonpoint

    Senior Member
    English--American
    I am an American English speaker and I would never ever say won't you in this case. I use won't you in sentences that start with "You will..." as a way of expressing insecurity and trying to get the person to promise me something.

    You will take out the trash, won't you?
    You will call when you get their safely, won't you?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I would say "won't you?" as the question is, for me,
    (You will) be sure to turn out the lights, won't you?
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I would say won't you is the only possible tag question (on the basis of Cagey's definition of a tag question, post 16). All the other options are grammatical and acceptable, but they are not tag questions. They just involve moving around bits of the sentence!

    {Will/wound/can/could} you be sure to turn off the lights? --> Be sure to turn off the lights, {will/would/can/could} you?
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    'Won't you?' seems to me the best option for the gap in the sentence proposed by Yichen:
    'Be sure to turn off the lights,_______ ?'

    However, strictly speaking, I do not believe this is an example of a tag-question.
    Cagey pointed out that a tag-question needs a parallel structure, but it ought to be parallel with the main verb, as in 'Today is Wednesday, isn't it?' In addition, it should normally be opposite in positivity or negativity.
    In the present case, the main verb is imperative, not indicative: but a tag-question can only be indicative. Hence there cannot be a strict parallelism here.

    If we convert the imperative to the indicative, we have:
    'You will be sure to turn off the lights ...' and for this the correct tag-question is '...won't you?'

    It is because the sense of the imperative in the original question is positive that I suggest '... won't you?' as the best conclusion for that sentence, but as already mentioned I do not believe that example is a genuine tag-question.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    From this thread, it would seem that in AE question tags do not take the opposite form of the grammatical construction used in the main clause, as it takes place in BrE.


    So far, most AE speakers suggested ", will you?" and most BrE speakers suggested ", won't you?". Would you confirm that there is a regional difference here? Or is it only a recent trend in modern AE (not to make the tag negative when the main clause is positive and vice versa)?
    I don't think that's quite accurate. Cagey, Bibliolept, Embonpoint, Myridon and I are AE speakers, as far as I know. Three of us would use "won't", one would use "will", and one would use "okay". Three of us have said that "will" would sound annoyed, angry or exasperated.

    On top of that, I don't think the sample is large enough to indicate a trend.
     
    That's OK. I didn't state that there certainly was any trend, I was only asking you - the native speakers - whether you think there is one or not. If I'm not getting it wrong, from what you, JamesM, say, it would seem it's more of a personal preferance than a regional thing of any kind. Am I right?
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    When I saw
    Be sure to turn off the lights,_______ ?
    my first thought was "..., okay?" SwissPete hit the nail on the head for me.
    We normally think of a tag question as following a declarative sentence (don't we?).
    But this sentence is imperative. For me, that frees the "tag question" from the obligation to reflect the main sentence grammatically.
    Maybe especially because the imperative is softened* by "Be sure to..."

    *Saying simply "Turn off the lights" seems to imply that I have a right to tell you what to do.
    But "Be sure to turn off the lights" suggests to me that I'm not commanding you, I'm merely reminding you of something we may have agreed needs to be done.
     
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