I could not find a tag to mark this question as spoken grammar. If I recall correctly, I've read once that in spoken English, as a general rule, people mostly put the object first and then ask about it with an object pronoun as in sentence number one below. The book was by English authors but they did not restrict that rule, if you will, to English people only-I mean Americans were not excluded.

Is that true?

I'd expect you to say it depends on the situation, but still, which sentence sounds most spoken in an informal exchange?

  1. Your parents, you miss them?
  2. Your parents, do you miss them?
  3. You miss your parents?
  4. Do you miss your parents?

And they'll have to let my parents go. We'll all be together like family again.

Your parents?

Murphy? You okay?

Your parents, you miss them?


But... ...you remember them. Because... ...if you remember them... ...they're never really gone.

Hey, Murphy... ...l'm glad your new heart works.

Source: Robocop 1993

Edit: Link added

  • 2
    While we might introduce topics that way sometimes I would hardly say "mostly". A common context for this would be steering a conversation back to a recent topic that is easily recalled by a brief intro as in your example.
    – shawnt00
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 12:09

1 Answer 1


There are a couple of things at play here.

To answer your immediate question, 3. and 4. sound like common ways to ask someone whether or not they miss someone else, in my experience. 3. is more casual/informal than 4. But they are all possible and understandable ways to ask someone whether or not they miss their parents. It depends on how you want to ask it.

However, I think there was a deliberate, stylistic choice made in the dialog. Considering the entire conversation, it appears that the questioner wants to emphasize that he/she is asking about the parents. Because he/she (I am assuming it is the same character) asked "Your parents?" first, I feel like the character is thinking something like "I am right? Is it your parents that you miss?" when he/she asks

Your parents, you miss them?

I still agree with my answer above. However, now there is a new element since I found out that Robocop is speaking. I can easily imagine that a person would ask it in that way. But asking it in that reversed matter gives the question some what of a "robotic" feel to it. It seems to me that by asking it in this manner it suggests or continues the theme that it is harder for Robocop to connect with humans. I am assuming that throughout the movies, it is difficult for him to connect with humans. Asking it in the direct manner "Do you miss your parents?" would seem more sympathetic/empathetic. Asking it in the reversed manner makes it seem like Robocop is less understanding about the other character's feelings.

This is further shown by his following statements

But... ...you remember them. Because... ...if you remember them... ...they're never really gone.

He's trying to make sense of it all. So it is harder for him to understand these feelings.

  • Thanks probablyme, I've added a link to the an audio clip of the sentence and from there you could check the whole dialog in pieces. I thought that would help confirm your guesses.
    – learner
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 3:16
  • Is it Robocop speaking?
    – Em.
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 3:45
  • Yes, it's him speaking.
    – learner
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 4:18
  • I have updated my answer.
    – Em.
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 4:22
  • Yes. Robocop's emphasis was about the boy's parents. I could imagine the scene especially after listening to the dialog. Thank you very much.
    – learner
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 4:39

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