"Oh, you know Quirrell already, do you?

-- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J.K. Rowling

There is a tag question that hasn’t negation thought the matrix is an affirmative. Is it ungrammatical or is it acceptable?

  • I believe that it's perfectly fine, especially in spoken English. To me, it sounds like someone said "Oh, you know Quirrell already," and the she realized that what she said might not be true, thus quickly added "do you?". – Damkerng T. Nov 28 '13 at 11:29
  • 2
    On an aside, you might want to know that "There is a tag question that hasn’t negation" isn't grammatical or idiomatic English. A native would say "There is a tag question that isn't negated" or perhaps "There is a tag question that hasn’t got a negation". – Matt Nov 28 '13 at 19:34
  • It’s grammatical, but it has the opposite sense of a negated tag. “You know him, don’t you?” means I believe you do, whereas “You know him, do you?” means I believe you don’t. – StephenS Jul 25 '20 at 5:13

Here is how I may take this case as.

Certainly, the matrix is an affirmative. But then it's from the asker's perspective. The asker is pretty sure about the answerer knowing Quirrell. But then, the asker is again confirming it.

Let us take an example. You live in Paris and I visit your home as your friend cum tourist. For me, it's quite obvious that you (being a citizen of Paris) must have visited The Eiffel Tower. I then ask you this:

"Oh, you have already visited the Eiffel Tower, haven't you?"


As an example, when you say "She's reading that book, is she?", you mean that you can not believe that she's reading the book.

The speaker is expressing serious doubt about the truth of the statement by saying "Oh, you know Quirrell already, do you?". I think the speaker is probably Dumbledore and he's introducing the new master,Quirrell, to the students of Hogwarts (magic school).

These tag questions are called true-question tags or same-way tags, as I've read it somewhere.

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