Sometimes questions are not always questions. Wrap your mind around that for a second.
Sometimes questions are answers. Yes, you heard that correctly. We can use questions to respond to a question, believe it or not. And we can also use questions to reply to statements!
I’m going to share with you examples and show you how the pronunciation of responding with a question and asking a question are different.
Standalone pronunciation is different from connected speech pronunciation. But what about pronunciation for emphasis? How do we stress certain sounds when we want to make a point of something?
To illustrate this point, let’s look at a few examples of responding with a question. And we’ll compare that pronunciation to connected speech pronunciation.
Question: Do you want me to make dinner tonight?
Answer: Can you? I have meetings all afternoon.
The question you would have asked if they hadn’t offered would be: “Can you make dinner tonight?” Followed by “I have meetings all afternoon.”
And remember that with connected speech the question would be “knyu make dinner tonight” because the important thing in the question is making dinner so that’s what’s emphasized.
But when answering the question, “can you” becomes loud and clear with a different pronunciation.
-> Responding with “can you?” shows that you are so happy they offered to make dinner.
I’m going to Whole Foods now, we’re running low on butter.
-> Could you? That’d be great!
The question you could’ve asked them if they didn’t offer: “Could you go to Whole Foods? We’re low on butter.” or you could just ask “Could you go to Whole Foods?”
Remember with this pronunciation of connected speech the question is reduced to “Q/ kyu” as in “Kyu go to Whole Foods.”
But when answering you articulate because you’re emphasizing those words and they become “could you?” I can hear it nice and clear and the pronunciation is different.
The idea is that you are pleased that they are going to do something to help you. You can just answer with the two-worded question response, which is not a question in this context, but actually an answer! You can also add an extra sentence expressing your gratitude and/or give an explanation.
I’ll share my notes with you.
Will you? Thanks so much!
Question you might’ve asked if they hadn’t offered: “Will you share your notes from class with me? I’ve got a doctor’s appointment!” And the connected speech pronunciation is “wuyu share your notes?” but when responding it’s “will you?” because you’re emphasizing how happy you are.
Statement: I’m going to pick you guys up from the airport Friday night!
As a question, it could have been: Do you want me to pick you up from the airport Friday night? Pronunciation for this is duyu want me to?
Answer: “Would you? Otherwise we could uber it.” And the pronunciation is would you?
But if they didn’t offer and you wanted to ask them this would be the question:
You take the potential question you would’ve asked and turn it into your answer, but it’s still a question. At this point they’ve already committed to it and you’re not actually asking them anything so it’s rather rhetorical, but you’re emphasizing it because you’re expressing your thanks and gratitude, but it is no longer a question.
Now that you know the formula, let’s take a look at a few other examples. For these, I’ll give you a few seconds to think about what the answer in question form could be.
I’m going to pull an all-nighter because I have so much studying to do.
What is the best question-answer here?
I’ll give you a second.
The answer is “Should you?” as in “Should you do that?” It’s a shorter reply for “Should you really be pulling an all-nighter?”
This is a good reply because as a good friend, you’re concerned about their health. Pulling an all-nighter means not getting any sleep
-> questioning them, second guessing their choice, challenging them
I’m going to do an internship this summer!
Is the best reply:
Would I ?
Can I ?
I’ll give you a second.
Ok, what do you think? “Should I?” right? Why? Because the question would be “Should I do a summer internship too?” or “Should I get a job this summer?”
I’m thinking about applying to study abroad. Maybe in Europe or Southeast Asia. Haven’t decided yet.
What’s the best reply?
Are you is the best answer because the question is “Are you applying to study abroad?” and the person just told you what they are doing so the correct answer is “are you?”
You have a leaf in your hair. Let me get that for you.
How would you respond to this with a question?
Do I ?
Because if you were to ask the person you might say, “Do I have anything in my hair?” So “do I” would be the best answer.
You’re so funny and you don’t even know it!
The answer would be “Am I?” because if you turned it into a declaration it would become “I am so funny and I don’t even know it.” And “I am” as a question becomes “am I?”
Makes more sense now, right?
You are answering the question or the statement with words that generally start a question but in this context they are answers. The way you respond using these “questions” is based on what question you would have asked them.
If we answer this two-worded question, we are not using the pronunciation of connected speech. Instead we are going to articulate the words and really make a point of them. Notice how there are no other words in this answer. The focus and emphasis is on the two-worded question words.
So those are some examples of responding with a two-worded question. Connected speech, standalone pronunciation, and pronunciation for emphasis all carry slightly different pronunciation. So, when you’re emphasizing, think about what is the most important point to get across as you speak the words. Notice how you can answer the question with the question you would’ve asked but didn’t need to either because the other speaker already offered to do something or because they asked the question you were going to ask. This is a great technique to use when you want to show your thanks and appreciation.
Alright Advanced English learners, thanks for joining me in this lesson. The full transcript of this lesson can be found on our blog, so be sure to check out advanced english dot co forward slash blog. If you prefer to listen to this lesson, check out our podcast; it's available on our website. And if you love the podcast, be sure to leave us a nice review, that really helps us out!
See you in the next one where we’ll continue advancing your English together! Until then, keep up the awesome work.