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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > Question tags with "must"    

Question tags with "must"



Mietz
Germany

Question tags with "must"
 
Hello again,

I came across a grammar question in a worksheet on question tags today.

The sentence started: You must trust me, _________ .

The answer key said: You must trust me, mustn ´t you.

I don ´t think that ´s correct, because of the different meaning of "mustn ´t".

In general I think that this sentence shouldn ´t be used with a question tag at all. The context with "must" doesn ´t really leave any room for that.
If I have to, either I might say: "You have to trust me, don ´t you?" or maybe: "You have to trust me. Won ´t you?" Still - the last one doesn ´t seem to be fitting from my point of view.

What do you think / say?

Thanks for your opinions!

Mietz

12 Sep 2011      



maryse peyé
France

in my opinion it sounds correctly. It probably depends on the context.
 
1) This might be an encouragement to someone depressed.
 
This sentence might be from a friend : ´you have always trusted me and be happy to listen to my opinion, advice... Now I won ´t let you do something wrong because I want to help you. ´
 
So this tag would reinforce the speaker ´s decision to help a friend.
 
2) Or on the contrary this is someone with a great power of decision, a great influence. The speaker reinforces the idea that the one in front of him can do nothing else that what is asked him to do. For example, the leader of a sect to his disciples.
 
hope this could help.

12 Sep 2011     



GIOVANNI
Canada

In my opinion it is also correct. In this case mustn ´t  is used as a question tag, a phrase that has been added to the main part of the sentence to have a reaffirmation from the speaker.



12 Sep 2011     



libertybelle
United States

It is correct - but no one uses it anymore - it ´s really out-of date.Thumbs Down

If you write:

You must trust - the answer would be - "must you not?"  (which was used over 100 years ago)
Must you not is mustn ´t in today ´s daily speech. (like you mustn ´t do that)

Why these books are teaching redundant question tags is beyond meWacko - but
the answer to that question, in today ´s terms would probably be:

You must trust me - alright?
  OK? or won ´t you?

Remember -
a positive sentence has a negative tag and
a negatvie sentence has a positive tag.

12 Sep 2011     



valentinaper
Greece

Since it is used as a form of encouragement, as maryse said, it could also be in the imperative: "Trust me!"
In this case, the question tag would be :"..., won ´t you?" as libertybelle said.
So, it ´s not a case of the grammatical use of "must" but rather the pragmatic use of the utterance.

12 Sep 2011     



libertybelle
United States

Good point Valentin.
But the reason for tags is to make sure we ´re understood. It ´s nothing more that a question to a statement to make sure the listener has gotten the message and is forced to answer.
So it is a kind of re-enforcement.


12 Sep 2011     



ldthemagicman
United Kingdom

Dear Mietz,

 

The original query relates to Question Tags, or Tag Questions.

 

“An A –Z of English Grammar and Usage”, says, (slightly abbreviated), “A tag question is a little question we add at the end of a STATEMENT”.

“Its subject matches the subject of the statement”.

“Its auxiliary, (or be) matches the auxiliary, (or be) in the statement, except that:

i)                    "If the statement is positive, the tag is negative.  If the statement is negative, the tag is positive”

ii)                   “If there is no auxiliary or be in the statement, we use do as the auxiliary in the tag question”.

“The Tag Question invites the hearer to respond to a statement”.

“Negative Questions expect a ‘Yes’ answer, Positive Questions expect a ‘No’ answer”.  

 

Here are some of my examples, with my underlining:

 

“You do have enough money for the bus, don’t you?”

“It’s very warm.  You don’t need 2 overcoats, do you?”

“You have remembered your passport, haven’t you?”

“You haven’t forgotten your camera, have you?”

“You are Russian, aren’t you?”

“You aren’t tired, are you?”

“You dance frequently, don’t you?”

“You don’t dance the waltz, do you?”

“You like your teacher, don’t you?”

 “You don’t like bananas, do you?”

 “You attend Peking University, don’t you?”

“You don’t attend University on a Sunday, do you?”

 

 

“You can swim 1 kilometre, can’t you?”

“You can’t swim 10 kilometres, can you?”

“If you tried, you could swim 5 kilometres, couldn’t you?”

“Even If you tried hard, you couldn’t swim 20 kilometres, could you?”

 “Your Dad has given you permission --- you may come to the disco, mayn’t you?”

“You mightn’t have enough money for your holiday, might you?”

“You must eat, if you want to be healthy, mustn’t you?”

“You mustn’t eat too much junk food, must you?”

“You ought to get plenty of sleep, oughtn’t you?”

“You’re so excited, you shan’t be able to sleep tonight, shall you?”

“You shouldn’t drink too much, should you?”

“You will be a good boy and go to sleep, won’t you?”

 “You wouldn’t tell your Father, would you?”

 

In the context of this query:

“You must trust me, mustn’t you?”

 

I hope that I have helped you.

 

Les

12 Sep 2011     



ueslteacher
Ukraine

And then Les said, "I ´m right, aren ´t I?"
Bravo Les - another complete answer Wink
Sophia

12 Sep 2011     



Mietz
Germany

Have I mentioned recently, that I really love this community and I wouldn ´t know what to do without it and all the wonderful and helpful people around here?

THANK YOU EVERYBODY!!!
Hug

Mietz


12 Sep 2011     



libertybelle
United States

That ´s what I said Les.

Only a tag doesn ´t invite - it forces the listener to react.

(I don ´t know why they have to sanitize, sterilize and streamline an explanation in every grammar book??)

Just imagine what a teenager answers to a tag today - and that is not something you can get out of a grammar book!

If I said to my son - "You cleaned up your room today, didn ´t you?"
He ´d answer, "Yeah, yeah" in a totally apathetic way - which most teens do -  and of course his room wasn ´t cleaned at all.Confused

12 Sep 2011     



GIOVANNI
Canada

@Libertybelle - "Yeah, yeah" brings back lots of memories. Usually when I used a tag question the answer would be "Yeah, yeah" as well.

12 Sep 2011     

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