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I've seen it many times, but I just don't get it.

I am a good student, or am I?

I am not a good student, or am I not?

I am a good student, or am I not?

I am not a good student, or am I?

1) Which of those examples above are correct?

2) What's the use of this kind of question?

3) Is it simply rhetorical as I see it?

4) What's its structure meant to be like? (g.e: aff sentence - aff question?)

5) What's the intention of the speaker with this kind of question?

6) What's the listener's interpretetion of it?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Drew, Marv Mills, Mitch, tchrist, Dan Bron Oct 3 '15 at 12:25

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  • It's not clear what your fundamental question is, but "or am I not" must be used with great care to be meaningful -- it's not used correctly in the above examples. – Hot Licks Sep 30 '15 at 20:04
  • I only recognise 'or am I' as usable in those examples. I have never seen, "or am I not" in that context. (EDIT I see that Hot Licks has already said that) – chasly from UK Sep 30 '15 at 20:05
  • So, please @HotLicks and chasly from UK, enlighten me on this one. Because I just don't understand this kind of question... I don't even know how to use it. – Loureiro Gui Sep 30 '15 at 20:08
  • In those uses, "or am I?" is a quasi-dialogical method of raising doubt and thus creating suspense. – JEL Sep 30 '15 at 20:16
2

I am a good student, or am I?

I am not a good student, or am I?

In those examples you have a statement followed by an expression of doubt. If we remove the conjunction and use separate sentences, you can see this.

I am a good student, or am I? ---> I am a good student. Am I a good student?

I am not a good student, or am I? ---> I am not a good student. Am I a good student?

It doesn't matter whether the statement part is affirmative or not. The question part is simply a question.

Usage

The most likely usage is to challenge an accepted view. Example:

A: Should we promote John to store manager?

B: Well we all know that John is not a suitable candidate, or is he? In fact, in the last couple of months he has improved enormously. I think we should give him a chance. Perhaps we could promote him on a trial basis.

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