Phil: Clair. In Haley’s stuff, a box of condoms.

Clair: Yeah. Um, I bought those for her. Honey, she’s an adult, and she’s going to college. I want to be realistic. I don’t want her to get caught unprepared.

Phil: 24 times? What, are you buying her a 4-year supply?

Clair already bought them, so why is Phil asking with ‘are you buying~’?

Would it be the same if I say

What? Did you buy her a 4-year supply?’

Could I get similar examples, please?


2 Answers 2


What, are you buying her a 4-year supply?

This is phrased to express light sarcasm and surprise. He has no idea how long 24 condoms will last her, but he probably does not want to know either. Technically the grammar is correct, because until she receives them the action is not complete. There is an unstated exasperated plea to not complete the action.

What? Did you buy her a 4-year supply?

This is more clinically phrased. He could calculate she would use one every other month (and thought they would last that long) then that might be how to word it. Or, if he is not good at math, it could be a serious question. Depending on the tone of his voice, it could also imply light sarcasm. But to me it does not express the exasperation of the first wording.


In addition to what RichF said,

Phil uses the present progressive here, I think, because to him this is an ongoing situation. He apparently just found out, and he hasn't come to terms with the situation.

If he had said:

What? Did you buy her a 4-year supply?

It would sort of imply that he's not going to put up a fight, that it's something from the past that he can't change.

By referring to it in the present progressive, he's subtly signalling that he's not willing to drop the subject yet, or that he might still hold some hope of changing the situation.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .