From time to time I encounter the sentence "Oh, do you now?" which I suppose expresses some kind of irony. Is the question grammatically correct?

The question was asked also here: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=796384

  • 3
    I don't really know about grammatical correctness, but it's a perfectly valid spoken sentence. "Now" is being used as an intensifier emphasizing the idea of immediacy, that the person may realize their error a moment later. There's a more technical explanation at english.stackexchange.com/questions/96761/… Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 12:00
  • Interesting: sans context, I interpreted this as a sarcastic (and rhetorical) question asked after explaining something for the N-th time. Sort of as "Oh, do you [finally get it] now?" Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 12:53
  • It's a question that is asked when the asker is doubting the claim of another. Joe: "I have the largest collection of pre-1968 baseball cards in the world!" Shmoe: "Oh, do you now?" Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 17:56
  • I think you mean sarcastic. Irony is related but that phrase is not ironic unless the speaker is implying something wrongly.
    – Mitch
    Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 15:19

2 Answers 2


Yes, this usage is grammatically correct. "Now", here, is being used in a completely separate form from its standard definition. The classification of this usage varies depending on where you look it up:

now — sentence connector

  1. used as a transitional particle or hesitation word: now, I can't really say

  2. used for emphasis: now listen to this

  3. used at the end of a command, esp in dismissal: run along, now

John Lawler notes that it can be called a:

  • Discourse Particle

  • Pragmatic Particle

  • Conversational Management Marker

And in the particular usage from your example, it should be written as either of the following:

  1. Oh, do you now?

  2. Oh, do you, now?

I'd expect (1) to be more common in writing due to the awkward pacing caused by the two commas being so close to each other. If you removed "Oh" from (2) it would flow as expected:

Do you, now?


To me this expression says "oh you want to do that do you?" when the person is not deserving of doing the action.

Child: "I want to have a cake and extra chocolate and watch TV"

Parent: "Oh, do you now?"

I think that the statement is grammatically correct.

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