Results 1 to 2 of 2
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Apr 2010
    • Posts: 425
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #1

    negative clause + affirmative tag

    They say this type of interrogative(see title) can function as polite requests, for example:

    You couldn't carry this for me, could you?

    However, as a non-English native, I cannot figure out why it can be a request when the main clause is negative.

    To me, I would think the main clause should be positive together with a negative tag, whereby a polite request is formed. For example:

    You could carry this for me, couldn't you?

    Could you tell me why (negative clause + affirmative tage) can be a polite request?
    Thank you very much indeed.

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2007
    • Posts: 17,580
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #2

    Re: negative clause + affirmative tag

    Politeness is more important than logic.

    If I say "You could carry this for me" I'm assuming you can and will and want to.

    If I say "You couldn't possibly... " then I'm assuming that I am too much trouble and then YOU say that of course you can. It allows the other person to take the lead on doing the favor instead of my assuming he will do it. (I don't assume anything - it's just how the dance goes.)
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

Similar Threads

  1. negative + non-restrictive clause
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 08-May-2009, 17:51
  2. Negative questions and tag questions ?
    By Assassin in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 18-Aug-2008, 15:38
  3. to fail in an affirmative and a negative form
    By vil in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 16-Apr-2008, 13:42
  4. Negative Participative clause
    By Noego in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 14-Apr-2007, 13:14
  5. affirmative and negative answers(1)
    By YOSHITAKEHORI in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 12-Mar-2006, 19:54

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •