2

571 suppose, supposing and what if
(...) A past tense makes the suggestion sound less definite.

Daddy, can I watch TV? ~ Suppose you did your homework first.

M. Swan, Practical English Usage, §571

I wonder what the daddy's reply means.
a) "I guess you've already finished your homework",
b) "I think you'll finish your homework first (if so,/so/then you can)",
c) "If you finish your homework first"
d) It's vague, and is more or less meaning all of the above.

Is it a kind of words that is typical from a parent to the kid?
Is there an omitted subject 'I' before the 'suppose'?

  • It's (c) If you finish your homework first (before I consider and answer your question), THEN by implication you're more likely to get the answer you want. The first word should be understood as a cut-down version of Let us suppose that... – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 19 '17 at 18:26
3

I think that, of your options, (c) is the closest.

I might paraphrase it like this:

"I suggest you finish your homework first."

(Usage note: When a parent uses suggest in a context like this one, it pretty much means the same thing as, "Not unless you finish your homework first," only stated in a gentler, milder tone.)

As for the omitted "I", it's almost more like a rhetorical question:

"How about if you finish your homework first?"

| improve this answer | |
  • Or even Say you finish[ed] your homework first. There are various alternatives all implying something like Alternatively, but the choice may affect what tense works next. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 19 '17 at 18:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.