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    #1

    I think that you don't know Jack Smith

    The following three sentences (in a row) come from FUNDAMENTALS OF ENGLISH GRAMMAR by Betty Schrampfer Azar, Simon & Schuster, 1992, in the part that deals with Tag Questions:

    I think that you don't know Jack Smith.
    I think that Mary isn't from New York.
    I think that Jerry can't speak Arabic.

    (The book I'm using is a Chinese translation. ) I'd like to know in what situations native speakers would use this 'I think...not...' pattern rather than 'I don't think...'.
    Thank you in advance.

  1. Ouisch's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: I think that you don't know Jack Smith

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    The following three sentences (in a row) come from FUNDAMENTALS OF ENGLISH GRAMMAR by Betty Schrampfer Azar, Simon & Schuster, 1992, in the part that deals with Tag Questions:

    I think that you don't know Jack Smith.
    I think that Mary isn't from New York.
    I think that Jerry can't speak Arabic.

    (The book I'm using is a Chinese translation. ) I'd like to know in what situations native speakers would use this 'I think...not...' pattern rather than 'I don't think...'.
    Thank you in advance.

    The main reason someone would use this particular phraseology would be to refute a statement.

    For example, I might be boasting and say that I'm a very good friend of Jack Smith - he and I attended Harvard together and used to go out drinking all the time. If the person to whom I'm speaking knows Jack Smith personally, and knows that Jack actually graduated from Yale and was a teetotaler who never attended Harvard, he might reply "I think that you don't know Jack Smith."

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: I think that you don't know Jack Smith

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    The following three sentences (in a row) come from FUNDAMENTALS OF ENGLISH GRAMMAR by Betty Schrampfer Azar, Simon & Schuster, 1992, in the part that deals with Tag Questions:

    I think that you don't know Jack Smith.
    I think that Mary isn't from New York.
    I think that Jerry can't speak Arabic.

    (The book I'm using is a Chinese translation. ) I'd like to know in what situations native speakers would use this 'I think...not...' pattern rather than 'I don't think...'.
    Thank you in advance.
    Ouisch is correct, but it's just as likely to be a mistranslation.
    It's one of those illogical constructions in English, since not thinking X does not imply thinking not-X.
    "I don't believe ..." is similar. This might be used in a court room, or any legal or pedantic context where the actual thought or belief is crucial.
    Eg. Barrister: I believe you don't know the accused.

    What are the suggested tag questions?
    I think that you don't know Jack Smith, don't I? (?)

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    #4

    Re: I think that you don't know Jack Smith

    FUNDAMENTALS OF ENGLISH GRAMMAR by Betty Schrampfer Azar, Simon & Schuster, 1992:
    (Situation1: I think that you don't know Jack Smith. )
    --You don't know Jack Smith, do you?
    --No, I don't.

    (Situation2: I think that Mary isn't from New York.)
    --Mary isn't from New York, is she?
    --No, she isn't.

    (Situation3: I think that Jerry can't speak Arabic.)
    --Jerry can't speak Arabic, can he?
    --No, he can't.

    In the Chinese translation, only the sentences in blue are Enlgish. So I wonder when native speakers use the 'I think...not...' pattern rather than 'I don't think...'

    Not quite understand your replies. Hoping you can help me further.
    Thank you again, ouisch and Raymott.

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    #5

    Re: I think that you don't know Jack Smith

    Do you native speakers have 'I think you don't know Jack Smith' in your mind and yet will say 'I don't think you know Jack Smith'?

  3. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: I think that you don't know Jack Smith

    Yes, you're right, it usually comes out "I don't think you know..." "Don't think" and "don't like" are extremely common euphemisms for discredit and dislike, which can seem too harsh.

  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: I think that you don't know Jack Smith

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    FUNDAMENTALS OF ENGLISH GRAMMAR by Betty Schrampfer Azar, Simon & Schuster, 1992:
    (Situation1: I think that you don't know Jack Smith. )
    --You don't know Jack Smith, do you?
    --No, I don't.

    (Situation2: I think that Mary isn't from New York.)
    --Mary isn't from New York, is she?
    --No, she isn't.

    (Situation3: I think that Jerry can't speak Arabic.)
    --Jerry can't speak Arabic, can he?
    --No, he can't.

    In the Chinese translation, only the sentences in blue are Enlgish. So I wonder when native speakers use the 'I think...not...' pattern rather than 'I don't think...'

    Not quite understand your replies. Hoping you can help me further.
    Thank you again, ouisch and Raymott.
    Put simply, we use it in cases that Ouisch and I have stated:
    - When we want to refute a statement, for emphasis.
    A: I know John.
    B: I believe you
    don't know John.
    - When the actual formal expression of the thought or belief is crucial.
    - When the normal way of say "I don't think ..." is not sufficiently precise for the circumstances, that is, when the distinction is important between:
    "A does not believe that X is true " and "A believes that X is false".

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    #8

    Re: I think that you don't know Jack Smith

    Thank you all very much. I've got it now.

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