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    #1

    few, tag question

    There are several adverbs and determiners which are negative in meaning but not in form. They include: seldom, rarely; scarcely, hardly, barely; little, few (in contrast to the positive a little and a few) They can effect clause negation: for example sentences in which they appear generally require a positive tag question.
    Last edited by sitifan; 25-Dec-2009 at 13:07.

  1. dodonaomik's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: few, tag question

    Quote Originally Posted by sitifan View Post
    1. There are few students in the classroom, __ there? (A) are (B) aren't
    I think the answer is A because few is negative in meaning. Am I right?
    2. There are only a few students in the classroom, __ there? (A) are (B) aren't
    Is only a few positive or negative in meaning?
    1 (A) are
    2 (B) aren't

    My own opinion.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: few, tag question

    Quote Originally Posted by sitifan View Post
    There are several adverbs and determiners which are negative in meaning but not in form. They include: seldom, rarely; scarcely, hardly, barely; little, few (in contrast to the positive a little and a few) They can effect clause negation: for example sentences in which they appear generally require a positive tag question.
    1. There are few students in the classroom, __ there? (A) are (B) aren't
    I think the answer is A because few is negative in meaning. Am I right?
    2. There are only a few students in the classroom, __ there? (A) are (B) aren't
    Is only a few positive or negative in meaning?
    I'm not keen on the negative/positive distinction, but let's move on.
    1. There are few students in the classroom, aren't there?
    2. There are only a few students in the classroom, aren't there?
    Here's some of my own, using your adverbs. They all seem to be "negative", except d. and f.
    a. There's scarcely any water left, is there?
    b. There's hardly anything to eat, is there?
    c. Your seldom come to class, do you?
    d. You often come to class, don't you?
    e. There are hardly any students in the room, are there?
    f. There's only a few drops of water left, isn't there?

    It seems as if few/a few are "positive"
    I can't tell you the rule because I just wrote these as I'd say them.


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    #4
    Last edited by sitifan; 25-Dec-2009 at 13:10.

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: few, tag question

    What? Are you drawing my attention to a dude on another website who thinks it should be: "There are few students in the classroom, are there?"?
    I disagree with him.

    But remember that some of these question tags change depending on the emphasis, and on the actual point you're trying to communicate, not simply on the form.
    For example, both of the following are correct in the right circumstances.
    "You really love me, don't you?"
    "You really love me, do you?"

  4. dodonaomik's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: few, tag question

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I'm not keen on the negative/positive distinction, but let's move on.
    1. There are few students in the classroom, aren't there?
    2. There are only a few students in the classroom, aren't there?
    Here's some of my own, using your adverbs. They all seem to be "negative", except d. and f.
    a. There's scarcely any water left, is there?
    b. There's hardly anything to eat, is there?
    c. Your seldom come to class, do you?
    d. You often come to class, don't you?
    e. There are hardly any students in the room, are there?
    f. There's only a few drops of water left, isn't there?

    It seems as if few/a few are "positive"
    I can't tell you the rule because I just wrote these as I'd say them.

    Hi, Raymott! Please looke at the following sentence.

    there are few students in the classroom ,_____?

    A aren't they B are they C aren't there D are there


    In China, an English teacher will absolutely tell you ONLY D is correct. And do you think C is right too?
    Last edited by dodonaomik; 29-Jul-2008 at 09:11.

  5. Raymott's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: few, tag question

    Quote Originally Posted by dodonaomik View Post
    Hi, Raymott! Please looke at the following sentence.

    there are few students in the classroom ,_____?

    A aren't they B are they C aren't there D are there


    In China, an English teacher will absolutely tell you ONLY D is correct. And do you think A is right too?
    Well, maybe we tend to be less absolute about things in Australia than in China?
    I've already looked at the sentence, considered it carefully, and given you my opinion. The answer is C, "aren't there".

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    #8

    Re: few, tag question

    Non-negative tags are used after sentences containing negative words like never, no, nobody, hardly, scarcely, and little.
    There's little we can do about it, is there?
    (page 470, Practical English Usage, by Michael Swan)

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    #9

    Re: few, tag question


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