Statements used as questions in casual speech


I see people say statement as question while speaking by raising their voice at the of it to mean it's a question.

For example consider followings.

  1. You want to stay here? ==> Is used to mean "Do you want to stay here?"
  2. You guys spoke to anyone? ==> Is used to mean "Did you guys speak to anyone?"

Are these really used by native speaker in casual speech? And can I write them in the same way while writing them as dialogue by putting them between quotes? Are there any special grammar rules for these kind of questions?


Posted 2013-09-02T23:59:40.040

Reputation: 3 602

Love this question. However, it can happen with sentences as well as questions (much like I did in the first sentence of this comment). When I catch myself doing this in writing, I usually fix it by adding the omitted verb or pronoun. I think that it's usually best to restrict this form to conversational use, and to avoid it in writing. – J.R. – 2013-09-03T01:53:44.013

@J.R. It's easy to explain the first example as omission, but not the second. The second can't have a deleted auxiliary such as have or did because the main verb (spoke) is already tensed. The OP's explanation (using statements as questions) works, though. – snailplane – 2013-09-03T02:17:38.307



Yes, they're really used by native speakers in casual speech.

Yes, you can write them that way in dialogue.

No, there are no special rules. Just write a sentence that is grammatically a statement, then write a question mark at the end instead of a period to signal the rising intonation. (That's what you've done in your examples.)


Posted 2013-09-02T23:59:40.040

Reputation: 30 097


These are indeed used, but mostly in speech or in quotes.

In speech, inflection plays a major role. There are at least two methods of making these statements seem like questions: 1) Rising tone on the last word and 2) This, combined with emphasis of one word or the other, this was a common import of speakers of Yiddish. Indeed, it can be used to make all sorts of statements.

Him I should want for a brother in law? = he's not good enough!

Him I should want for a brother in law? = he's nice enough, but he's beneath me!

Him I should want for a brother in law? is very similar to Him I should want for a brother in law? and both mean something like "OK, my sister is in love with this shlemiel, I can live with, but she could have done much better


Him I should want for a brother in law? = As a business partner, sure! But a relative???

Peter Flom

Posted 2013-09-02T23:59:40.040

Reputation: 2 320


Yes, this is fairly common in casual speech, not so common in formal writing.

Note that often this indicates that the speaker considers the statement surprising. In general, if you were, asking a person if they wanted to remain in their present location, you would use the "by the book" construction, "Do you want to stay here?" But if a person indicated they wanted to remain somewhere that you thought undesirable, like some place uncomfortable, or if you expected that they would want to leave, perhaps you thought they were in a hurry to move on, then when the person says, "No, I think I'll stay," you might reply in surprise, "You want to stay here?"

It is used as an alternative to a question in very informal speech. Instead of, "Would you like to stay here, sir?" one might ask, "Ya wanna stay here, bud?" This is especially true as the construction of the sentence becomes more complex. "You guys spoke to anyone?" is not unlikely, because the more formal statement would be, "Have you gentlemen spoken to anyone?", which is several levels higher in formality.


Posted 2013-09-02T23:59:40.040

Reputation: 51 729

You guys and you gentlemen are also different in meaning, since the former is gender-neutral. – snailplane – 2013-09-03T14:38:56.990

@snailboat Well, "guy" can refer specifically to males, as in the classic movie title, "Guys and Dolls" where "guys" is used as a slang term for "men" and "dolls" for "women"; or it can refer to persons of either sex; depending on context. Anyway, in THIS context, my point was to substitute a more formal word for the informal one. If you prefer, "Have you people spoken to anyone?", that would not change the point I was trying to make. – Jay – 2013-09-04T14:11:57.477