You’re Quite the Wanker, Aren’t You?

I taught English in Italy for a long time. You don’t even know your language has structure until you teach it. Present tense vs present continuous, past vs present perfect blah blah blah. 

Well there’s something called a “question tag.” The idea being you think something’s a certain way but you wanna be sure. Or, you think something’s not a certain way and you want to be sure. In either case, you want to be sure — you want confirmation.

To teach the Italians the idea of confirmation, I use the example of checking in on what we’re having for dinner: if I think we’re making spaghetti tonight but I want to make sure, what do I say?

  • We’re having spaghetti tonight, no?

See that little “no” at the end — that is a “question tag”. It’s called a “tag” because it’s at the end.

In the States, if I am confirming that Trump still hasn’t been impeached I say,

  • The orange creature is still in the White House, right?

So in conversational language, Italians say no? at the end of the sentence and instead Americans say right?

But not the Brits. No, these are complicated people, our British friends. They are not interested in being direct, are they? They would say:

  • We’re having spaghetti tonight, aren’t we?
  • The orange creature is still in the White House, isn’t he?
  • You are quite the wanker, aren’t you?

Now, which is “correct” English? The British way of course. Hands down. I mean, c’mon, get real. We Americans say gonna, wanna and all that stuff. We cut to the chase whenever we can! The Brits instead have more reverence for the language, innit?




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