Here is a situation: Dad is talking to his 5-year-old son while watching TV:

Dad: I really like this movie.

Son: But I don't like this movie.

Dad: I am a bit hungry.

Son: But I am not hungry.

Dad: You must be doing your homework at the moment, isn't it?

Son: No, I won't do my homework.

Dad (angrily): Stop _____

So, what do you think Dad's natural response should be here?

(I would really want to have it started with the word "stop", but if you think it won't sound natural in English, then you can drop it. It is very likely that this whole conversation will sound not natural - do, please, comment)

Here I have some of my options - none of them seem to be natural to me:

  1. Stop arguing with me! (But it’s not really an argument, as far as I can tell);

  2. Stop saying things opposite to what I am saying! (Too long and kind of too complicated for an angry response);

  3. Stop it! (Looks kind of too general to me and, perhaps, a bit soft)

  4. Stop reasoning with me (It’s not really a reasoning, but just a case of one being stubborn);

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    I'm not sure why the Dad is getting angry: surely he can't expect his son to like the same movies he does, or be hungry whenever he is. :p – ShreevatsaR Dec 20 '10 at 11:46
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    @RegDwight: As a native speaker I find that "... isn't it?" sentence somewhat impentrable. "You must be doing your homework at the moment ... ?" sounds like a question, confirming a suspicion that the son is doing homework right now, while the "isn't it" part doesn't correspond at all ("it" has no antecedent). I might expect "aren't you"? But then the son's response seems off, because he says he WON'T do his homework (i.e isn't doing it now/yet), so I'm forced to wonder if the father is meant to be saying "Do your homework" or "You should be doing your homework, shouldn't you?" – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Dec 20 '10 at 15:54
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    @RegDwight: I have definitely heard "innit" used this way in British movies before, where it effectively means "right?" and doesn't care about agreement with the rest of the sentence. – Kosmonaut Dec 20 '10 at 16:03
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    This usage of "isn't it" reminds me of english.stackexchange.com/questions/2153 – Marthaª Dec 20 '10 at 17:55
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    "Stop bitching!" – Claudiu Dec 20 '10 at 18:44

Eldros' answer "stop contradicting me" is correct, but a more familiar form would be "stop back-talking me".

  • BINGO!!! YES!!! Thank you Chris. I think "stop back-talking me" is the most natural and right to the point!!! – brilliant Dec 21 '10 at 1:38
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    @brillant: From my experience I would say "Stop talking back to me!" sounds more natural. But I would like other to confirm it. What do you think about it, @Chris, @Jimi, @Tom, anyone? – Eldroß Dec 21 '10 at 9:48
  • I would naturally say "talking back". – Rosey28 Dec 21 '10 at 13:48
  • @Eldros: If I had to use back and talk, then I'd certainly say, "Stop talking back at/to me." I'm not yet a father (:D), but this is not even a sentence that I think I would spontaneously say to my son in such a situation, and I've spoken English all my life. "Stop back-talking me!" may be the most right-to-the-point retort, but I don't think it's the most natural for everybody, including native speakers of English! However, this is most likely what @brilliant was looking for and it's certainly a darn good answer. Another possibility is, "Stop the back talk!" – Jimi Oke Dec 22 '10 at 4:47
  • But after having seen this answer, I will henceforth say back talk or back-talk, if I ever have to use back and talk together!! – Jimi Oke Dec 22 '10 at 4:49

It might be a bit archaic but the correct description of his son's behaviour is "contrary".

Stop being so contrary.


Recall the original question:

So, what do you think Dad's natural response should be here?

While I agree that @Tom Duckering's answer perfectly captures the son's behavior, I still do not think the response is natural enough. How many English-speaking fathers out there would actually say this to any of their children: "Stop being so contrary!"? I am thus obliged to suggest a few responses that I think would be more spontaneous:

  • Stop being so naughty!
  • Stop being stubborn!
  • Stop being so obstinate!
  • Stop IT and behave yourself!

I daresay other natural/spontaneous responses would not begin with "Stop":

  • Now, son, come off it!
  • Quit that attitude, son!
  • Don't be so cheeky, son!
  • Junior, don't be naughty!
  • You're a naughty boy!

A father prone to using big words with his children might say:

  • Son, I will not permit such obdurate behavior from you!

In a home where French and English have equal influence, one might hear:

  • Quel audace! Tais-toi!

As the son is always contradicting his dad, the Dad would probably say:

Stop contradicting me!

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    While I agree that's grammatically correct, I feel "Don't argue with me" or even "Stop annoying me" would be what one spontaneously blurts out at this point. – JoseK Dec 20 '10 at 12:13
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    The son is not actually contradicting his father - merely disagreeing in an annoying way. – Tom Duckering Dec 20 '10 at 12:16
  • +1 to Tom. He is in fact not even disagreeing — merely expressing his opinion on something different than what his father is talking about. – ShreevatsaR Dec 20 '10 at 15:01
  • @JoseK: I concur. – Jimi Oke Dec 21 '10 at 17:37

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