Senator Elizabeth Warren Reacts to Being Silenced: The Daily Show

Host to Warren: You stood up to read that letter. In the time that this has blown up everywhere, four of your male colleagues have been able to read the letter in full. Is there something to that? Should you have been a man to read this letter?

What is the meaning of "should you have been a man to read this letter"?

  • 3
    It is a somewhat unusual phrasing which can be paraphrased "Was being a man a prerequisite for being able to read this letter aloud?" or "Did one have to be a man in order to be able to read this letter aloud?"
    – TimR
    Feb 10, 2017 at 10:07
  • Since the speaker (Trevor Noah) is South African, my guess would be that this is from South African English. (It could also be that it's a literal translation from something in another language -- he speaks several -- but his English is usually perfect, so I think that's less likely.)
    – ruakh
    Feb 11, 2017 at 5:24

1 Answer 1


It's slightly unusual phrasing, but should you have X to Y is perfectly reasonable.

Should you have bought a ticket to ride the train?

In this case, the speaker is saying that Warren was denied not because of something she hadn't done, but something she wasn't.

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