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Where should I put 'as well' in this kind of sentence?

What I want to say is that John has given a gift only to one person and not to the other people present. So, one who hasn't received a gift should ask:

Why hasn't John given us a gift as well?

The only doubt I have with this sentence is that 'as well' after 'gift' might mean

'Why hasn't John given us a gift as well, apart from what he has given us already?'

This is not what I want to mean, but maybe the right meaning is implied.


Another way we can phrase the question can be:

Why hasn't John given a gift to us as well?

This should eliminate all doubt, but maybe it sounds a little too formal.

Are there better ways to formulate this question?

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  • You can use as well
    – Sam
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 13:55
  • "As well as to the other person/people" is the natural interpretation of the sentence. Presumably 'what he has given us already' would also count as gifts, so as well doesn't really fit in that context. Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 14:52

1 Answer 1

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All of your sample sentences --even your last one-- are ambiguous and could mean either that John has given someone else a gift but not us, or that John has given us something other than a gift. They're also all correct and natural for the context, and would be perfectly understood.

This won't cause any confusion because regardless of the context, John has not given you a gift, so the question works.

Let's take an example without any context:

Why didn't dad give Jane a hammer too?

In this situation, maybe dad gave someone else a hammer when Jane was expecting it, or maybe dad gave Jane a bag of nails, but no hammer. Regardless, dad didn't give Jane a hammer, and that's what the speaker is wondering about. We understand the rest of the context just as well as if the speaker had said, "Why didn't dad give Jane a hammer?" (without "too"), and it makes perfect sense.

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  • So, is there a way to formulate the question in an unambiguous way that includes the detail about dad (or in my case, John) having given the hammer (or gift) to the other people implied but not to Jane? Also, why did you use 'too' instead of 'as well'? Don't they have the same meaning in this case, except that 'too' is slightly more informal?
    – Fra
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 19:19
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    @Fra If you're writing the sentence, then you use italics: "Why hasn't John given us a gift as well?" If it's spoken, then you can emphasize the correct word in the same way italics does. The only way I can think of to use words is to add something like, "We were also expecting one." No special reason for using "too".
    – gotube
    Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 2:53

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