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  1. #1
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    Default strange question tag

    Hello,

    I'm new here. In fact it's my first post.

    And, as I had this question in my head for some time, I thought why not ask here :

    I heard this sentence in a movie (an episode of Columbo)
    "you have a bee in your bonnet about that suicide, don't you"

    and I was wondering why the character uses this tag and not "haven't you".

    Is it correct ? Or it is just acceptable in oral speech ?

  2. #2
    Teia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: strange question tag

    Quote Originally Posted by muribad View Post
    Hello,

    I'm new here. In fact it's my first post.

    And, as I had this question in my head for some time, I thought why not ask here :

    I heard this sentence in a movie (an episode of Columbo)
    "you have a bee in your bonnet about that suicide, don't you"

    and I was wondering why the character uses this tag and not "haven't you".

    Is it correct ? Or it is just acceptable in oral speech ?
    The question tag is correct because the verb have behaves as any other normal verb, i.e. this verb conjugates with the help of auxiliary do:
    e.g. You have a bee..., don`t you?
    She has a bee..., doesn`t she?

    If you had the construction have got, then the question tag would be different :
    She has got a nice house, hasn`t she? , and the same thing happens when you have perfect constructions : present perfect, past perfect, etc.
    You have had some awful days, haven`t you?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: strange question tag

    Thank you very much.
    I will have to keep your explanation in mind for the next time I stumble on this sort of thing.

    On second though, why does it behave like a normal verb ? Is it because of the idiom ?

  4. #4
    belly_ttt is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: strange question tag

    Quote Originally Posted by muribad View Post
    Thank you very much.
    I will have to keep your explanation ( explanation , not explaination) in mind for the next time I stumble on this sort of thing.

    On second though, why does it behave like a normal verb ? Is it because of the idiom ?
    Dear muribad, although I'm not a teacher, I want to answer and see if I can help
    It's not because of the idiom, just because itself is a normal verb

  5. #5
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    Default Re: strange question tag

    Welcome, muribad.

    Have behaves like a normal verb in (North American English) because it's the main verb, not because it's a part of the idiom bee in your bonnet.

    Main verb
    Ex: They eat fish, don't they?
    Ex: They run after work, don't they?
    Ex: You have a car, don't you?
    Ex: You have seen it, haven't you?
    Ex: You've got a car, haven't you?

    Does that help?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: strange question tag

    It certainly helps but I still have one question.

    Four of your examples are very clear to me : (correct me if I'm wrong...)

    Ex1 and 2 : with a normal verb like 'eat' the question tag will be with "don't/doesn't".
    Ex 4 : when "have" is clearly an auxiliary verb, the question tag will be with "haven't/hasn't" (.....and "hadn't" ?)
    Ex 5 : when we use "have + got ", it's always "hasn't/haven't" in the tag.

    Now the third example : "You have a car, don't you ?" I understand that "have" is used as a main verb meaning "to possess something" and thus the "don't" in the tag but would it be wrong (or just unusual) to say "you have a car, haven't you ?".
    It's just that I've looked up in a grammar book and found this in an exercice : "She has a good voice, hasn't she ?" and the alternative "She has a good voice, doesn't she ?" isn't even mentioned ! So I'm confused....
    Last edited by muribad; 01-Sep-2007 at 16:41.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: strange question tag

    While I'm at it, would it be correct to say
    "you have got a bee in your bonnet" ?
    and then would it be correct to add "haven't you ?" ????

    I think I should stop thinking about it, the bee is really in my bonnet now !

  8. #8
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    Default Re: strange question tag

    Quote Originally Posted by muribad View Post
    It's just that I've looked up in a grammar book and found this in an exercice : "She has a good voice, hasn't she ?" and the alternative "She has a good voice, doesn't she ?" isn't even mentioned ! So I'm confused....
    Check your book, muriband. Is it British English or American English?

    In North American English--remember English has more than one dialect--the verb have takes DO as a tag, if have is the only verb in the sentence.

    Ex: She has a good voice, doesn't she? North American English

  9. #9
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    Default Re: strange question tag

    Quote Originally Posted by muribad View Post
    While I'm at it, would it be correct to say
    "you have got a bee in your bonnet" ?
    and then would it be correct to add "haven't you ?" ????

    I think I should stop thinking about it, the bee is really in my bonnet now !
    Both of these are English:

    Ex: You have a bee in your bonnet, don't you? USA
    Ex: You have a bee in your bonnet, haven't you? UK

  10. #10
    belly_ttt is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: strange question tag

    Good question, muribad.
    It's not that when you change to "have got" means you change the question tag.

    First case:

    Do you know the present perfect tense:
    You have got my money back, haven't you?
    have here is an auxiliary for got

    Second case:

    Specially in British English, have got is equal to "have"
    in AmE
    Ex: I have got a new toy car
    = I have a new toy car

    Question tag:
    You have got a new toy car, don't you?


    ---> Not a teacher

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