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  1. #1
    Teia is offline Key Member
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    question tag: may

    Hi!

    What is the question tag for the following sentence?

    We may leave now,.......?

    The possible answers offered by the text of the grammar book are:
    may we not / can`t we / may we / may not we.

    In my opinion, can`t we is the correct answer. May we not seems to be more correct if we take into consideration the fact that the verb in the sentence is may, but I think that this answer is a little bit too pretentious. What is your opinion on that?

    Thank you very much in advance.

  2. #2
    corum is offline Banned
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    Re: question tag: may

    It depends on what you would like to achieve with the tag, IMO.

  3. #3
    Teia is offline Key Member
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    Re: question tag: may

    Quote Originally Posted by corum View Post
    It depends on what you would like to achieve with the tag, IMO.
    If you were given these possible answers, in a test paper, what would you choose? I have to choose something. I can`t ask the examiner about the intention because it`s a written test paper.

    Thank you again.

  4. #4
    corum is offline Banned
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    Re: question tag: may

    Quote Originally Posted by Teia View Post
    If you were given these possible answers, in a test paper, what would you choose? I have to choose something. I can`t ask the examiner about the intention because it`s a written test paper.

    Thank you again.
    IMO 'may' may mean these:

    - polite proposition
    - permission

    'May we not' is always a sure bet. The operator (the first tensed verb in the verb phrase) will always work.

    May we not?
    Shall we not? (proposition)
    Can we not? (permission)

  5. #5
    Teia is offline Key Member
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    Re: question tag: may

    Thank you very much for your answer.

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: question tag: may

    You could also make a case for c)- if the speaker were being sarcastic, etc.

  7. #7
    Teia is offline Key Member
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    Re: question tag: may

    Thank you very much for your reply. Good point!

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: question tag: may

    A better question would be to ask which you don't use.

  9. #9
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    Re: question tag: may

    Quote Originally Posted by Teia View Post
    Hi!

    What is the question tag for the following sentence?

    We may leave now,.......?

    The possible answers offered by the text of the grammar book are:
    may we not / can`t we / may we / may not we.

    In my opinion, can`t we is the correct answer. May we not seems to be more correct if we take into consideration the fact that the verb in the sentence is may, but I think that this answer is a little bit too pretentious. What is your opinion on that?

    Thank you very much in advance.
    The correct answer for an exam is "may we not".
    "May not we" us ungrammatical.
    "May we" is not a typical tag question because it is not the negative of the main sentence.
    "Can't we" is the correct answer for "We can leave now ..."

    In any fair test of tag questions, either "mayn't we" (which I don't recommend; besides, it's not an option) or "may we not" have to be right.

  10. #10
    Jaskin is offline Senior Member
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    Re: question tag: may

    Hi,
    Please note I'm not a teacher nor a native speaker.

    Is there just one possible answer ?

    May we" is not a typical tag question because it is not the negative of the main sentence.
    I'm sorry but that argument doesn't appeal to me at all.
    As far as I know there are plenty of examples of positive question tags after affirmative sentences.
    I think the sentence : "We may leave now, may we ?" sounds more like a question and is more natural than "We may leave now, may we not "?

    Cheers

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