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    #1

    Or was he?

    Hi there!
    I have found this construction several times lately and was wondering about its exact meaning, as in the following sentences:
    «He was really thinking about robbing the bank. Or was he?»
    Is there an omitted «not» at the end?
    What kind of tag question is it?

    Thanks a lot, friends.

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Or was he?

    Quote Originally Posted by jiho View Post
    Hi there!
    I have found this construction several times lately and was wondering about its exact meaning, as in the following sentences:
    «He was really thinking about robbing the bank. Or was he?»
    Is there an omitted «not» at the end?
    What kind of tag question is it?

    Thanks a lot, friends.
    There's no omitted "not". In my view, although it has the form of a tag question (all except the missing negative) it doesn't behave like normal tag questions. But formal grammar isn't my strong point, so I wouldn't argue very strongly against a teacher who said it was.

    In a sentence like 'It was terrible, wasn't it?', the tag question is asking the person addressed to agree. '[I believe] it was terrible.' But in your question the speaker is not so sure - 'He was really [at least, that's what I thought at first and maybe that's what he wanted people to think] thinking about robbing the bank. [But hang on a moment, maybe he had something else on his mind. I wonder...?]'

    b

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    #3

    Re: Or was he?

    Hi BobK,
    I see your point. I made the mistake of assuming it was sort of a tag question, when it is not the case.
    Pretty clear your explanation.
    Thank You so much.

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