I am trying to decide whether the appropriate wording is:


"Your clients are evolving. Shouldn't you?"


"Your clients are evolving. Shouldn't you be?"


For some reason, "be" feels both necessary and unnecessary.

  • 1
    Both are fine (or not fine, according to how you see things). It all depends on whether you think of the tag question as a shortened version of Your clients are evolving. Shouldn't you evolve [too]? or Your clients are evolving. Shouldn't you be evolving [too]? – FumbleFingers Jul 17 at 17:01

It feels awkward the first way because it's not a complete sentence. Shouldn't I what?

The second way is a little better, but still leaves a lot implicit. Again, shouldn't I be what?

The implicit sentence is something like "Shouldn't you also be evolving?" How much of that can you leave out and still be understood? Leaving out parts, especially parts that complete the sentence, is awkward. On the other hand, putting in all the parts seems quite wordy.

It looks like advertising copy, maybe from one of those motivational companies that "helps" with managing your business. Getting something that is going to work as advertising copy is somewhat different from producing something that is grammatically correct.

  • 2
    I can't agree with that "feels awkward" business. Consider, for example, We're leaving. Shouldn't you? Where according to your principles the tag question should be "extended" to We're leaving. Shouldn't you be?, but I think almost no-one would ever say that. – FumbleFingers Jul 17 at 17:20
  • Shouldn't I what? Feed the cat while you are away? Go to bed now the house is empty? Or leave also? – puppetsock Jul 17 at 17:28
  • Thanks for your comments. At least I'm not alone in wondering which is the right way to word this. Indeed it is advertising copy, so the point about ad copy having different "rules" is valid. – Leslie L. Jul 17 at 20:22
  • @LeslieL.: I don't think "ad copy has its own grammar" is a relevant concept here. It's part of standard English that we can "delete" repeated / predictable elements such as be leaving in my example. Which isn't actually a "tag question" as most people understand the term - but the principle is the same, in that it obviously involves highly predictable elements that don't need to be explicitly stated. – FumbleFingers Jul 18 at 12:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.