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I work at a school, and the other day I heard one of the teachers reprimand their student by sarcastically saying, "You think you're so smart, aren't you?". I thought this was slightly odd - the more natural sounding way to say that, in my opinion, would be, "You think you're so smart, don't you?".

I can't articulate the difference, but I feel like there definitely is one. Am I right here, or are both valid ways to express that idea?

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2 Answers 2

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The "correct" tag is "don't you".

If you made this a regular question you would say "Do you think you are so smart?" You would not say "Are you think you are so smart"

So the tag is "... don't you?"

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That might possibly be two sentences:

You think you’re so smart. Aren’t you?

A comma splice here would be incorrect grammar, but the real problem is that “Aren’t you?” actually implies the opposite of what the other teacher meant to say. Not in this context makes the question rhetorical, so the teacher is inadvertently implying that the other person is obviously that smart. He or she almost certainly intended something like:

  • You think you’re so smart, but are you?
  • You think you’re so smart, don’t you?

The first one strongly implies that the answer is no. The second one strongly implies that the person thinks so and is wrong.

“Aren’t you so smart?” would also work well by itself, as sarcasm.

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