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  1. Nightmare85's Avatar
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      • Native Language:
      • German
      • Home Country:
      • Germany
      • Current Location:
      • Germany

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 1,333
    #1

    What have we here?

    Hello guys,
    I heard the following sentence some hours ago:
    What have we here?

    I think it's correct but I'm not really sure.
    Months ago I learned that we don't need to use do for such sentences:
    What happened?
    It's not necessary to say:
    What did happen?
    (It's okay if you want to emphasize a sentences, like, "I do know it!")

    Does this mean it's also not necessary to say:
    What do we have here?

    This is the original scene:
    YouTube - What_have_we_here

    Cheers!

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
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      • Canada
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      • Canada

    • Join Date: Apr 2007
    • Posts: 4,146
    #2

    Re: What have we here?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare85 View Post
    Hello guys,

    Does this mean it's also not necessary to say:
    What do we have here? This is usually a neutral unemotional statement.


    I heard the following sentence some hours ago:
    What have we here? This often expresses some emotion: surprise, anticipation, discovery, excitement, etc.



    Cheers!
    2006

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • China
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      • China

    • Join Date: Jun 2006
    • Posts: 9
    #3

    Re: What have we here?

    This sentence looks so British to me. Don't Americans normally say: What do we have here? What have we got here?


    • Join Date: Jun 2010
    • Posts: 167
    #4

    Re: What have we here?

    Nightmare and QQFarmer, you're making entirely too much sense to be able to understand English. Stop expecting it to be so rational.

    This particular sentence follows older grammatical rules than the ones that prevail today. In the early days of the English language, questions were formed simply by changing word order, instead of adding the auxiliary "do." There's a great deal of debate over how that grammatical pattern became part of the English language; I'm reading a book right now that makes a compelling case for Welsh influence. Anyway, the old-fashioned way of asking questions ("what have we here?" instead of "what do we have here?" or "have you any wool?" instead of "do you have any wool?") survived among the literate upper classes, who were slower to react to the "bastardizing" influences of foreigners, and persist even today in the occasional idiom or children's nursery rhyme (the "wool" question was taken from "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep," a song still commonly taught to toddlers.)

    Anyway, it's considered correct, and Americans do say it.

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