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"We can't do that, now can we?"

The above sentence has nearly 10 million Google results. I've seen it used in books, television shows, and in casual conversation.

But what if I want to replace the word "can't" with "shouldn't"? How would I phrase the second half of the sentence then? "We shouldn't do that, now should we?" seems like the obvious choice, but based on a Google search, it doesn't seem to be very common. Is there a more common way of wording that sentence?

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    It's a tag question, and tag questions repeat auxiliary verbs in the tag. Can and should are both auxiliary verbs. – John Lawler Jan 24 '14 at 20:17
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    Another innocent misled by the wild inaccuracy of Google's results when quotes are used in the query. There are actually only 80 or so, not the claimed 10 million. Click on the top link in your question, and then click on what should give you the 9th page of results. This happens regularly on this site. – Peter Shor Jan 24 '14 at 20:26
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"We shouldn't do that, now should we?" is perfectly fine in every respect. Not every theoretically possible sentence has been produced and indexed by Google. Completely new sentences are produced every day. And when specifically creating a new or uncommon sentence, you shouldn't be surprised by the result being new or uncommon.

  • You won't mind if I upvote this, will you? But what was the point of the question? – FumbleFingers Jan 25 '14 at 5:43

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