I heard protagonists say "Sleep well?" after sleep in a movie and got curious; why is it "Sleep well", not "Slept well"? Shouldn't it be "Slept well"? Since they are not about to sleep, but already have slept. Is Did you removed from "Did you sleep well"?

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    You could also say “Slept well?”, but it is more common to ask an underlyingly full question, “Did you sleep well?” and then just contract or leave out did you. This pattern is marked as highly conversational/colloquial, but it works for a lot of similar questions: “(did you) have a nice day?”, “(did you) get off work early?”, “(did you) ever think about that?”, etc. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 15 '15 at 11:05
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    "You looking at me, @Janus. You looking at me?" – David Pugh May 15 '15 at 11:08
  • @DavidPugh That too—though in that case, it’s only the verb (‘are’) that’s being left out, not the entire subject–auxiliary cluster. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 15 '15 at 11:09
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    @DavidPugh: You mean "You talking to me?" – Tushar Raj May 15 '15 at 11:24
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    @Janus & Area: With my feet planted firmly in the 12th century, I am not at my best on modern popular culture. I think I managed to hybridise Taxi Driver with Casablanca; I shall go fall on my sword. – David Pugh May 15 '15 at 12:28

Is Did you removed from "Did you sleep well"?

Yes, exactly. The speaker's intonation ought to convey the intention that this is a question rather than an imperative. One would also say "Sleep well" before someone goes to sleep, but in that case the intonation would be different.


Yes, it's an elision. We could perfectly well ask, "slept well?" instead but don't always.

  • I thought elision was for dropping syllables. Isn't dropping words called reduction? – Tushar Raj May 15 '15 at 11:23
  • @Area: You may have got me, depending on what the big boys say. I will confess to you that while my sense of usage is pretty good, I don't always know the correct linguistics terms for what I know. I am like that guy in the Moliere play who discovered that he had been speaking "prose" all his life. – David Pugh May 15 '15 at 12:26
  • I just know what the movies taught me. This term was used in 'Outsourced', where the lead tells his Indian colleagues to use 'reductions' because that's how Americans talk. – Tushar Raj May 15 '15 at 12:28

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