Using auxiliaries to express surprise
English grammar (See all our English grammar tips)
Using auxiliaries to express surpriseTo express amazement, surprise or simply interest in what we have just heard, the auxiliary verb is used in the following way:
- He ran out of money. - Did he? He ran out of money. - Really?!
- I am fond of classical music. - Are you? I am fond of classical music. - Is that true?!
Amazement can be expressed by means of the same construction by inverting the position of the auxiliary verb and the subject. This indicates even greater surprise:
- I'm going to Mexico tomorrow. - You are? I'm going to Mexico tomorrow. - Wow! Really?!
For most verbs, we use the auxiliary verb do in the response. However, for modal verbs (can, may, must, will, shall, should, would, could, might) and auxiliary verbs (have and be), we repeat the same verb.
- Horatio really likes my dog. - Does he?
- You should see a doctor about that. - Should I?
-Helena is a vampire. - She is?
- I can't ride a bike. - Can't you?
- They wouldn't be able to come. - They wouldn't?
Note: Be careful to distinguish between to have as a main verb and to have as an auxiliary verb:
- I have a great idea. - Do you?
- He has seen that movie five times. - Has he?
Do you have smart way of remembering this rule? A tip to avoid making a mistake on 'Using auxiliaries to express surprise'? Share it with us!