Why shouldn't I say

taraa

Senior Member
Persian
Is the use of negative question here wrong since it sounds like a criticise?

"I have had a question for many years. I have read this sentence: "The only thing you have to do is take time for yourself." Why shouldn't I say "to" take, instead? Why this take is bare infinitive?"
 
  • taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    You could say 'to take' if you like. It would make no difference to the meaning.


    Which negative question? Where is the criticism ?
    This negative question "Why shouldn't I say "to" take, instead?".
    I think the negative question here is for surprise, no?
     

    koper2

    Member
    Polish
    Is the use of negative question here wrong since it sounds like a criticise?

    "I have had a question for many years. I have read this sentence: "The only thing you have to do is take time for yourself." Why shouldn't I say "to" take, instead? Why this take is bare infinitive?"
    I read "take" as a subjunctive form of the verb in The only thing you have to do is take time for yourself.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Is the use of negative question here wrong because it sounds like criticism?
    A: "Why shouldn't I say "to" take, instead?".
    The answer is: "The sentence is correct and it does imply criticism."

    A: "Why should I say "to" take?" is positive and asks for advice.
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    I read "take" as a subjunctive form of the verb in The only thing you have to do is take time for yourself.
    It sounds like I straightforward neutral question to me, with no surprise or criticism implied. At least, that's how I understood it when I answered it.
    Thanks a lot :)
    But I read that positive questions are neutral, no?
    The answer is: "The sentence is correct and it does imply criticism."

    A: "Why should I say "to" take?" is positive and asks for advice.
    Thank you very much :)
    I think negative questions can be ambiguous, right?
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think negative questions can be ambiguous, right?
    All language is inherently ambiguous. A negative question can be literal - for example asking if a thing did not happen. Alternatively, the negative can be used to signal that the speaker expects a particular answer: "Don't you want to go?" But this signal itself can be meant literally, or can really mean its opposite - irony, sarcasm, etc.
     
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    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    All language is inherently ambiguous. A negative question can be literal - asking if a thing did not happen. Alternatively, the negative can be used to signal that the speaker expects a particular answer: "Don't you want to go?" But the signal can be meant literally, or ironically, or sarcastically, etc.
    Thanks a lot :)
    Can you please explain the literally meaning of "don't you want to go out"?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    The problem, as I see it, is that asking "Why shouldn't I [do something]?" often implies that you've done it or want to do it, but somebody has told you not to. So it can come across as quarrelsome.

    I don't think it does in your particular example, because there's nothing to particularly suggest that in the context. However "Why can't I say xxx, instead?" is, I would say, a more 'neutral' way of asking that question.
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    The problem, as I see it, is that asking "Why shouldn't I [do something]?" often implies that you've done it or want to do it, but somebody has told you not to. So it can come across as quarrelsome.

    I don't think it does in your particular example, because there's nothing to particularly suggest that in the context. However "Why can't I say xxx, instead?" is, I would say, a more 'neutral' way of asking that question.
    If it can be neutral in the sentence "don't you hear the doorbell? I rang it three times." I don't know whether he heard or not. But if it's critisice I think he heard the doorbell, right?
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    « Didn’t you hear the doorbell » implies surprise, to the point of implying that he did in fact hear the doorbell. But « Did you hear the doorbell ? » also implies that you expect him to have heard the doorbell. It is not the fact that the question has a negative form which implies criticism here, it’s the fact of asking about the doorbell at all.
    The guidance you have read could be reworded as « often we use negative questions for suggestions, criticisms etc » - that doesn’t mean we always use them for that purpose, nor does it mean that the positive version of the same question couldn’t also be used for the same purpose.
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    « Didn’t you hear the doorbell » implies surprise, to the point of implying that he did in fact hear the doorbell. But « Did you hear the doorbell ? » also implies that you expect him to have heard the doorbell. It is not the fact that the question has a negative form which implies criticism here, it’s the fact of asking about the doorbell at all.
    The guidance you have read could be reworded as « often we use negative questions for suggestions, criticisms etc » - that doesn’t mean we always use them for that purpose, nor does it mean that the positive version of the same question couldn’t also be used for the same purpose.
    Thanks a lot :)
    I once was told in forum that I shouldn't ask my questions in negative form. Is there anything wrong with the question in the first post "Why shouldn't I say "to" take, instead?", please?
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I once was told in forum that I shouldn't ask my questions in negative form. Is there anything wrong with the question in the first post "Why shouldn't I say "to" take, instead?", please?
    I think that this is good advice, and that you should take it.

    Negative questions are difficult to answer and often give no clue as to what the questioner has a problem with.
    Demonstrating a negative is also difficult. Negative questions can imply truculence.

    Bear in mind that WRF is a written forum and the written language is less descriptive than the spoken language that has tone, expressions and gestures - the written language tends to be read more literally.

    If you have been told that "But if it's critisice I think he heard the doorbell, right?" is wrong because 'critisice' is spelled wrongly and is a verb, and then you ask "Why can't I say " But if it's criticise I think he heard the doorbell, right?"? it is clear that you are insisting on being wrong and have not read all of the question.
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    I think that this is good advice, and that you should take it.

    Negative questions are difficult to answer and often give no clue as to what the questioner has a problem with.
    Demonstrating a negative is also difficult. Negative questions can imply truculence.

    Bear in mind that WRF is a written forum and the written language is less descriptive than the spoken language that has tone, expressions and gestures - the written language tends to be read more literally.

    If you have been told that "But if it's critisice I think he heard the doorbell, right?" is wrong because 'critisice' is spelled wrongly and is a verb, and then you ask "Why can't I say " But if it's criticise I think he heard the doorbell, right?"? it is clear that you are insisting on being wrong and have not read all of the question.
    But Is the following wrong?
    "don't you hear the doorbell? I rang it three times."
    1. It's a criticism. So it means that I think he heard the doorbell, right?
    2. In its literal meaning I don't know whether he heard or not.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    But Is the following wrong?
    "don't you hear the doorbell? I rang it three times."
    Yes, it should be "Didn't you hear the doorbell? I rang it three times."

    What do you mean by "wrong"?

    Asking negative questions on the forum can be annoying - to that extent, it is "wrong."
    1. It's a criticism. So it means that I think he heard the doorbell, right?
    Right.
    2. In its literal meaning I don't know whether he heard or not.
    Yes, you are querying whether or not he heard the doorbell.
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Yes, it should be "Didn't you hear the doorbell? I rang it three times."

    What do you mean by "wrong"?

    Asking negative questions on the forum can be annoying - to that extent, it is "wrong."
    Right.
    Yes, you are querying whether or not he heard the doorbell.
    I meant that my understanding was wrong or not :)
    Thanks a lot :)
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Why shouldn't I do X? - Can sound defiant or entitled.

    (Dialogue in a train)
    - Please don't put your feet up on the seat.
    - Why shouldn't I put my feet on the ****ing seat? Who do you think you are?

    - Why must I say X? Why can't I say Y instead?
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Thank you so much :)

    <——-Off-topic question removed by moderator (Florentia52)——->
     
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