Phrasing a question


How ungrammatical/colloquial is to structure questions without the usage of an auxiliary verb? Is it possible to communicate well using only the second type? What impression does this make on an educated native English speaker?

For example:

Q 1: Do we plan to visit my sister later today? (with standard question intonation)


Q 2: We plan to visit my sister later today? (also with standard question intonation)


Posted 2013-02-20T04:45:17.007

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The second example is spoken where I grew up (near Chicago), but when I say it, I think of it almost as though the word "do" is still there, as though I just barely said it. (In fact, I don't say the word at all, so I don't know why I perceive it that way.)

Later in life, I moved to California. I was surprised to discover that people didn't talk that way here! So, I think it's restricted to certain dialects. Also, I'd never write it that way, nor would I say it in formal situations. I'd say it's not standard, and it's only grammatical in some dialects.

What impression would it make on me if I heard it? In informal spoken English, I doubt I'd notice it at all. In any other situation, I think it would sound like a mistake.


Posted 2013-02-20T04:45:17.007

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As snailplane mentioned, we don't say it like Q2 in California.
Q1 is gramatically correct, however

Are we planning to visit my sister later today?

sounds more natural.


Posted 2013-02-20T04:45:17.007


Thank you for the explanation and correction. Hard to catch for a non-native ear. – SunnyBoyNY – 2013-02-26T05:13:58.810


Q1 is the neutral form. It merely seeks information. Q2 doesn’t so much seek information as express surprise, and possibly anger, at what is proposed. ‘We plan to visit my sister later today? Then why didn’t you tell me? I was going to play golf today.’

Barrie England

Posted 2013-02-20T04:45:17.007

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This is the same difference I see in those sentences. – kiamlaluno – 2013-02-20T13:28:59.960


For another take on it. I think people everywhere (in the US at least) will use theform of Q2 when questioning whether that is really the case.

Suppose you and your friend are going over the plan for the day and says:

First we'll go to the store, then have lunch and before we head over to John's for the party we'll visit your sister.

You might very well respond, "We plan to visit my sister today?" with intonation to give the impression that you don't think that's a very good idea or there's no time for that, etc.

You might also say it as, "You plan on visiting my sister today?"

You might also put a Wait in front of it:

Wait, you plan on visiting my sister today??


Posted 2013-02-20T04:45:17.007

Reputation: 8 476

Just for reference 'wait, ...' is a very American construct to British ears. I can almost hear an atlantic drawl. – Phil H – 2013-02-20T11:25:56.800

@PhilH- You are probably right. Would "Hang on a minute" be more British? – Jim – 2013-02-20T14:52:23.577