Unit 49. Auxiliary verbs in short answers/ questions, etc.: So/Neither am I, etc.


Can you swim? I have lost my key. He might not come.

In these sentences can, have, and might are auxiliary (= helping) verbs. We often use auxiliary verbs when we don’t want to repeat something:

  • “Are you working tomorrow?” “Yes, I am.” (= I am working tomorrow)

  • He could lend us the money, but he won’t. (= he won’t lend us the money) Use do/does/did for simple present and past short answers:

  • “Does he smoke?” “He did, but he doesn’t anymore.”

    We use auxiliary verbs in short questions:

  • “It rained every day during our vacation.” “Did it?”

  • “Ann isn’t feeling very well today.” “Oh, isn’t she?”

  • “I’ve just seen Tom.” “Oh, have you? How is he?”

    These short questions (Did it?, isn’t she?, have you?) are not real questions. We use them to show polite interest in what someone has said, and they help to keep the conversation going.

    Sometimes we use short questions to show surprise:

  • “Jim and Sue are getting married.” “Are they? Really?”

    We also use auxiliary verbs with so and neither:

  • “I’m feeling tired.” “So am I.” (= I am feeling tired too)

  • “I never read newspapers.” “Neither do I.” (= I never read them either) Note the word order after so and neither (verb before subject):

  • I passed the exam and so did Tom. (not so Tom did) Nor can be used instead of neither:

  • “I can’t remember her name.” “Nor can I./Neither can I.” Not… either can be used instead of neither and nor:

  • “I don’t have any money.” “Neither do I.” or “I don’t either.”

    I think so / hope so, etc.

    We use so in this way after a number of verbs, especially think, hope, guess, suppose, and

    I’m afraid:

  • “Is she Canadian?” “I think so.”

  • “Will Eric come?” “I guess so.”

  • “Has Ann been invited to the party?” “I suppose so.”

    The negative form depends on the verb:

    I think so – I don’t think so

    I hope so / I’m afraid so – I hope not/I’m afraid not

    I guess – I guess not

    I suppose so – I don’t suppose so or I suppose not

  • “Is she Italian?” “I don’t think so.”

  • “Is it going to rain?” “I hope not. (not I don’t hope so)

  • “Are you going to drive in this snowstorm?” “I guess not.”

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