In written English, in response to:

Tomorrow is Jane's birthday.

What is the difference between:

Oh, it is?


Oh, is it?

Is there a difference in meaning behind the question?

  • 1
    Maybe. It depends on if any tones of surprise or sarcasm can be detected in the questions. – J.R. May 18 '16 at 1:51
  • How about in written English? – Philippe Signoret May 18 '16 at 2:28
  • "Oh, is it?" is short for "Oh, is it her birthday?". Grammatically, the latter is correct, but I don't see any reason why you can't use the former both in conversation and writing. – user24743 May 18 '16 at 4:40
  • 1
    @PhilippeS - It's generally better to put additional clarifications like that in the question rather than in the comments. (Just some advice for the future; in this case, I think you've already got a pretty good answer.) – J.R. May 18 '16 at 9:31
  • Possible duplicate of Which is correct? - "Guess, what it is?" or "Guess, what is it?" – ColleenV May 23 '16 at 22:30

Both questions express an element of surprise at the news. However, without any other context, either question can be used in both a good or a not so good way to express surprise at the news of an impending birthday.

Either intonation, or additional context is needed for clarification. For example, both could be followed by "Well, I must get her a present." to mean something nice, or both could be followed by "Well, she is getting up there isn't she." to mean something less nice.

However, you should know that one might say

Oh, it is, is it?


Oh, is it, it is?

is hardly if ever heard, and might be understood to be confusion.

From my experience, "Oh, it is?" is much more dependent on intonation than "Oh, is it?" to express meaning.

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