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 12:07.
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.
Last edited by sitifan; 25-Dec-2009 at 12:10.
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?"
Last edited by dodonaomik; 29-Jul-2008 at 08:11.
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)