0

Ali has few friends, does he?

Is using an affirmative question tag after that sentence a sound structure or not?

3
  • 4
    It's sound provided the tag is intended to have constant polarity, i.e. it's not asking for confirmation, but suggests an attitude such as surprise, disbelief, disapproval or the like. Elsewhere, one would expect the negative tag "doesn't he?"` So, you tell us what the intended meaning is, and then we can give you a definite answer. – BillJ May 2 at 12:56
  • Ali has a few friends, doesn't he? is not: Ali has a few friends, does he? – Lambie May 2 at 15:16
  • It also means the opposite if it has an indefinite article. – Lawrence May 2 at 15:23
1

Yes, it is grammatical. However, it signals that the content of the main clause and intent of the communication are, in a sense, opposites.

  • Ali has few friends, doesn't he? (Content/Intent: Ali doesn't have many friends.)

  • Ali has few friends, does he? (Content: Ali doesn't have many friends. Intent: the speaker believes that Ali has more friends than the other person expected.)

  • Ali has a few friends, does he? (Content: Ali has some friends. Intent: Ali has no friends.)

Question 'tags' are usually expressed with a negation of the main verb. The speaker expects an affirmation of the main clause. However, when the main clause and the tag are both unnegated, the question is rhetorical and communicates disbelief or incredulity about the main clause.

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