Tema 17- Expresión de la aserción, la objeción y el énfasis

Tema 17- Expresión de la aserción, la objeción y el énfasis

Use of auxiliaries:

Auxiliaries are extremely important in conversation because in short answers, agreements, disagreements with remarks etc. we use auxiliaries instead of repeating the original verb.

  1. Auxiliaries in short answers:

Questions requiring the answer yes or no should be answered yes or no and the auxiliary only. The original subject, if a noun, is replaced by a pronoun. Pronoun subjects may change as shown:

– Do you smoke? Yes, I do. (Not: Yes, I smoke)

– Did the things go? Yes, they did/ No, they didn´ t

If there is more than one auxiliary in the question, the first should be used in the answer.

– Should he have gone? Yes, he should

Questions with must I/he etc. or need I/he etc. are answered Yes, you he must or No, you/he needn´ t

– Must/Need I take all these pills? Yes, you must

No, you needn´ t

An answer with yes or no without the auxiliary would be less polite.

  1. Agreements and disagreements with remarks:

a) Agreements with affirmative remarks: are made with yes/so/of course + affirmative auxiliary. If there is an auxiliary in the first verb, this is repeated. If there is no auxiliary do, does or did is used.

– He works too hard- Yes, he does

– There may be a strike- Yes, there may.

– Living in London will be expensive- Of course it will

– That´ s Ann- Oh, so it is.

b) Disagreements with negative remarks: are made with yes/oh yes + affirmative auxiliary. The auxiliary is stressed here.

– I won´ t have to pay- Oh yes, you `will.

– My alarm didn´ t ring- Oh yes, it `did.

c) Agreements with negative remarks: are made with no + negative auxiliary.

– It wouldn´ t take long to get there- No, it wouldn´ t

– I haven´ t paid you yet- No, you haven´ t

– The door can´ t have been locked- No, it can´ t

d) Disagreements with affirmative remarks: are made with no/oh no + negative auxiliary.

– Peter gets up too late- No, he doesn´ t

– There is plenty of time- No, there isn´ t

– Prices are coming down- Oh no, they aren´ t

But can be used when disagreeing with an assumption. The assumption may be expressed by a question.

– Why did you travel first class? But I didn´ t

  1. Question tags

They are short additions to sentences, asking for agreement or confirmation

a) After negative statements we use the ordinary interrogative

– You didn´ t see him, did you?

– Ann can´ t swim, can she?

b) After affirmative statements we use the negative interrogative

– Peter helped you, didn´ t he?

– Mary was there, wasn´ t she?

Negative verbs in the tags are usually contracted.

We have the irregular 1st person singular: I´ m late, aren´ t I?

Let´ s has the tag shall: Let´ s go, shall we?

Statements containing words such as neither, no, none, no one, nobody, nothing, scarcely, barely, hardly, hardly ever and seldom are treated as negative statements and followed by an ordinary interrogative tag

– Nothing was said, was it?

– Peter hardly goes to parties, does he?

When the subject of the sentence is anyone, anybody, no one, nobody, none, neither we use the pronoun they as subject of the tag.

– No one would object, would they?

– Neither of them complained, did they?

Question tags after affirmative statements: with the simple present tense we use don´ t/doesn´ t in the tag. With the simple past we use didn´t

– Edward lives here, doesn´ t he?

– You found your passport, didn´ t you?

After all other tenses we just put the auxiliary verb into the negative interrogative:

– Mary´ s coming tomorrow, isn´ t she?

– Peter´ s heard the news, hasn´ t he?

We have to remember that ´s is is or has and ´d is had or would.

– Peter´ d written before you phoned, hadn´t he?

– Mary ´s come if you asked her, wouldn´t she?

With everybody, everyone, somebody, someone we use the pronoun they

– Everyone warned you, didn´ t they?

– Someone had recognized him, hadn´ t they?

Negative interrogative tags without contractions are possible but the words order is different

– You saw him, did you not?

This is a much less usual form.

Intonation: When questions tags are used the speaker doesn´ t normally need information but merely expects agreement, these tags are therefore usually said with falling intonation as in statements.

Sometimes, however, the speaker is not quite sure that the statement is true and wants to be reassured. In this case the question tag is said with rising intonation and the important word in the first sentence is stressed, usually with a rise of pitch.

  1. Comment tags

They are formed with auxiliary verbs, just like questions tags, but after affirmative statements we use an ordinary interrogative tag and after a negative statement we use a negative interrogative tag. A comment tag can be added to an affirmative statement. It then indicates that the speaker notes the fact

– You saw him, did you? (Oh, so you saw him)

– You´ve found a job, have you? (Oh, so you ´ve found a job).

Comment tags can also be spoken in answer to an affirmative or negative statement:

– I´ m living in London now- Are you?

– I didn´ t pay Paul- Didn´ t you?

When used in this way, the tag is roughly equivalent to “Really!” or “Indeed!”

The chief use of these tags is to express the speaker´ s reaction to a statement. By the tone of his voice, he can indicate he is interested, not interested, surprised, pleased, delighted, angry, suspicious, disbelieving etc. The speaker´ s feelings can be expressed more forcibly by adding an auxiliary:

– I borrowed your car- Oh, you did, did you?

– I didn´ t think you´ d need it- Oh, you didn´ t, didn´ t you?

That is, before an ordinary interrogative we use an affirmative auxiliary verb and before a negative interrogative we use a negative auxiliary verb.

The meaning depends on the tone of voice used. The speaker may be angry, even truculent, but the form could also express admiration or amusement.

  1. Additions to remarks:

a) Affirmative additions to affirmative remarks: can be made by subject + auxiliary + too/also or by so + auxiliary + subject. If there is an auxiliary in the first remark, it is repeated in the addition

– Bill would enjoy a game and Tom would too/ so would Tom

If there is no auxiliary, do/does/did is used in the addition. Instead of saying:

– Bill likes golf and Tom likes golf (too)

We can say:

– Bill likes golf and Tom does too/ so does Tom

The additions can of course be spoken by another person:

– The boys cheated- The girls did too/ So did the girls

– I´ m having a tooth out tomorrow/ So am I

When both remarks are made by the same person, both subjects are usually stressed. When they are made by different people the second subject is stressed more strongly then the first.

b) Affirmative additions to negative remarks: are made with but + subject + auxiliary.

– Bill hasn´ t got a licence- But Donald has

– She doesn´ t eat meat but her husband does

c) Negative additions to affirmative remarks: are made with but + subject + negative auxiliary.

– He likes pop music but I don´ t

– You can go but I can´ t

d) Negative additions to negative remarks: are made with neither/nor + auxiliary + subject .

– Tom never goes to concerts, neither does his wife

– Ann hasn´ t got any spare time- Neither/ nor have I.

These additions can also be made with subject + negative auxiliary + either

– He didn´ t like the book, I didn´ t either.

Alternatively, we can use the whole verb + object if there is one + either

– I didn´ t like it either.

Emotive emphasis:

Apart from the emphasis given by information focusing, the language provides means of giving a unit purely emotive emphasis. They include:

1. Excalamations:

– How quickly you eat!

2. The persuasive do in imperatives:

– Do have some more tea

3. Interjections:

– Boo (disapproval)

– Hey (call for attention)

– Ooh (pleasure)

4. Expletives and intensifiers:

– She is thoroughly Irish

5. The general clause emphasizers such as actually, really and indeed.

Emphatic operators:

There is a difference between the following pairs:

– I am `sorry

– I `am ‘sorry

– I t`old you

– I did tˇell you

In the second utterance the operator, though emphasized, need not carry the nuclear force.

Noncorrelative so and such:

In familiar speech, the determiner such and the adverb so are stressed so as to give exclamatory force to a statement, question or directive. In this usage, there is no accompanying correlative clause or phrase.

– I´ m so afraid they ´ ll get lost

– Why are you `such a bàby?

In consequence so and such become equivalent to how and what in exclamations:

– They were so cross!

– How cross they were!

– They´ re such delightful children!

– What delightful children they are!


It is a feature of colloquial style whereby some item is repeated (either completely or by pronoun substitution) for purposes of emphasis, focus or thematic arrangement.

Its simplest form is merely the reiteration (with heavy stressing) of a words or phrase for emphasis or clarity

– It is far, far too expensive

– I agree with every words you´ ve said, every single word.

In very loose and informal speech, a reinforcing or recapitulatory pronoun is sometimes interested within a clause where it stands “proxy” for an initial noun phrase:

– The book I lent you, have you finished it yet?


Fronting is the term we apply to the achievement of marked theme by moving into initial position an item which is otherwise unusual there.

The reason for fronting may be:

  1. To echo thematically what has been contextually given

– (You should take up swimming for relaxation). Relaxation you call it

  1. The item may be contextually most demanded

– Wilson his name is

With predications in front position, we often find subject-verb inversion.

– Into the stifling smoke plunged the desperate mother (AVS).

This phenomenon is common enough in ordinary informal speech

– Here´ s the milkman (when the subject is not a pronoun)

– And there at last was the book I had been looking for

– Down came the rain

In the instances with here/there + be it is not simply a matter of stylistic choice. There is a clear difference of meaning from the alternatives with SVA order.

– Here´ s the milkman- He´ s come at last

– The milkman is here – at the door. Shall I get two paints?

There are 4 common circumstances in which the operator precedes the subject:

  1. We have elliptical clauses with initial so or the corresponding negatives neither or nor.

– John saw the accident and so did Mary

– He won´ t go and neither should you.

  1. Where a phrase of negative form or meaning is fronted

– At no time must this door be left unlocked

  1. In comparative clauses when S is not a personal pronoun

– She looks forward, as does her secretary, to the completion of the building

  1. In clauses of condition and concession

– Should you change your plans, please let me know

– Even had she left a will, its is unlikely that the college would have benefited

Cleft sentences:

It is a device for giving prominence by grammatical means, involving the division of the sentence into 2 clauses, each with its own verb.

– It is his callousness that I shall ignore

With the subject pronoun “it” as an empty theme, followed by the verb be, the cleft sentence readily achieves focus on the final item.

Subject pronouns other than it sometimes occur.

– (No), that was the doctor I was speaking to.

Pseudo-cleft sentences:

It is another device whereby the construction can make explicit the division between given and new parts of the communication. The pseudo-cleft sentence occurs more typically with the wh-clause as subject, since it can thus present a climax in the complement

– What you need most is a good rest

Unlike the cleft sentence, it rather freely permits marked focus to fall on the predication:

– What he´ s done is (to) spoil the whole thing