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Question for Native Speakers of English

I'm interested in whether the following questions sound all right.

Question 1

Context: You're driving with your family, and you happen to drive right past the place where you used to live.

Your sibling notices and asks, "Didn't we used to live where we just drove past?"

Question 2

Context: You and your friends notice that a police car has just stopped at the place where you think one of your friends lives.

One of your friends turns to you and asks, "Doesn't Sasha live where that police car just stopped at?"


If these sound all right, please let me know. If these don't sound all right, or would sound much better with some extremely minimal change, please let me know that instead.

::insert much academic gratitude here::

Comments

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
aelkiss
Oct. 16th, 2004 02:55 pm (UTC)
Both are fine for me.
rialian
Oct. 16th, 2004 03:22 pm (UTC)
===1:Did we not at one time live at the place we just passed? (or at least fix the spelling of the "past" which should be "passed". I try not to use contractions too much, and the "used" feels wrong to me in this instance...but I speak oddly on occasion.

===2: Sounds odd. However, the sentence is getting in the way of the better way to say it. I am, once again, odd.
ex_desertson422
Oct. 16th, 2004 04:34 pm (UTC)

"past" is okay in the context she used. It's a homonym, if my grade-school grammar lessons are still correct in the brain -- as in "We drove PAST..." versus "Johnnie's car passed us..."

jalenstrix
Oct. 18th, 2004 06:14 am (UTC)
or at least fix the spelling of the "past" which should be "passed"

I very much appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions, but I do agree with desertsong here - this is a homophone for the past tense of "pass" (="passed"). "Past" functions quite happily as a preposition, as far as I'm aware.

"The ball sailed right past the window."

radhardened
Oct. 16th, 2004 04:37 pm (UTC)
Question 1: It sounds a little bit off to me. It would sound more natural to me phrased as, "Didn't we used to live at that place we just drove past?"

Question 2: It sounds fine to me.
ex_desertson422
Oct. 16th, 2004 04:37 pm (UTC)
They look okay to me, but I don't see any native English speakers using quite such a proper phraseology in conversation, though. :) More common phraseology would be:

"Didn't we used to live there?" (implying someplace close by that we just passed)

"Doesn't Sasha live at where that police car just stopped?"

...but then again, I'm not a linguistic lunatic like someone I know. :grin: But as an author, as you wrote those two phrases, they look ok from a grammar perspective, if not a colloquial "real world" one. :)
jalenstrix
Oct. 18th, 2004 06:11 am (UTC)
"Doesn't Sasha live at where that police car just stopped?"

Very interesting... "at where" makes my head ache, no matter where I put it or how I modify it. Can I ask what area you're from? (This may be a dialectal difference I should be aware of.)


But as an author, as you wrote those two phrases, they look ok from a grammar perspective, if not a colloquial "real world" one. :)

Goodness, you're full of surprises. ;) Most people I've talked to find these sentences acceptable colloquially, rather than grammatically/in an essay. [grin]
ex_desertson422
Oct. 18th, 2004 06:22 am (UTC)
I'm from South Florida, which is the lost borough of Manhattan. New Yorker rules-of-speech apply. :) On second read, you could say "...live where that..." and it would still sound okay to me.

re: surprises. I call 'em as I see 'em. Hee.
stillvisions
Oct. 16th, 2004 04:39 pm (UTC)
Number one seems fine. Number two I'd probably prefer if the "at" on the end was dropped.
bkleber
Oct. 16th, 2004 06:01 pm (UTC)
Both sound good to me. I might drop the "at" in Q2, but it would be of equivalent goodness, not any better.

sorry to take so long for the one you mailed out--life has been hell. It'll find its way to you... some time vaguely soonish.

You coming to faire closing weekend? Jesse'll be in and we'll be there on Sunday.
jalenstrix
Oct. 18th, 2004 06:05 am (UTC)
Yeah, I should be there this Sunday. ;)

And no worres about crazy life foo - it happens. [grin]
halophoenix
Oct. 16th, 2004 06:15 pm (UTC)
They both sound fine to me. I would likely drop the "at" in the second question as well.
(Deleted comment)
puzzlement
Oct. 18th, 2004 04:14 am (UTC)
You need to run this through the "also a linguist, so my intuitions are shot" test.

"Didn't we used to live where we just drove past?" is... okay-ish. (For me, this means I can't imagine saying it, but I'd answer it.) Insert 'at' : "Didn't we used to live at where we just drove past?" is better.

"Doesn't Sasha live where that police car just stopped at?" Again okay-ish. Remove 'at' for a nicer version.
jalenstrix
Oct. 18th, 2004 06:07 am (UTC)
"Didn't we used to live at where we just drove past?"

Wow - you're happy saying "at where"? That's two people now who have recommended putting the "at" in front of the "where". I'm really surprised, because that's the one thing I haven't saturated on - "at where" always and forever sounds hideous to me.

Would you mind telling me what area you're from? (I'm thinking maybe it's a dialect thing.)
puzzlement
Oct. 18th, 2004 06:17 am (UTC)
I'm Australian, I grew up in rural New South Wales and have lived in Sydney for seven years.
verlaine
Oct. 19th, 2004 01:33 pm (UTC)
I think they're both fine, very idiomatic-sounding. One question, though, is "didn't we used to" actually grammatical? Obviously no one is ever going to mistake the meaning, but surely "didn't we" should take an infinitive?

"Didn't we use to" looks even more wrong, though. What to do?
jalenstrix
Oct. 25th, 2004 02:00 pm (UTC)
One question, though, is "didn't we used to" actually grammatical? Obviously no one is ever going to mistake the meaning, but surely "didn't we" should take an infinitive?

I admit to a bit of confusion over here. As far as I'm aware, "used to ..." is the way English tends to express the imperfect tense (continued action in the past). However, maybe my dialect is different from yours.
vampymaus
Oct. 21st, 2004 11:00 am (UTC)
"Didn't we used to live where we just drove past?"

For me, the use of 'where' feels odd in this sentence. If I were the speaker and I wanted all of those pieces in the sentence, I would probably say "Didn't we used to live at the house/building/whatever we just drove past?".

"Doesn't Sasha live where that police car just stopped at?"

The use of 'where' in this sentence seems to be much easier to accept, though the 'at' seems to be unneeded and/or redundant.

If only allowed minimal changes, I would simply drop the 'at'.

With more changes allowed, even if I were speaking quickly, I would probably say "Doesn't Sasha live at the house where that police car just stopped?".

Without helping your structure study, I would most likely say, "Did you see where the polic car stopped? Doesn't Sasha live there?". :P

I know there is a reason for my feelings on the word 'where', but I'm not sure what the reason is and I'm not sure if it's a good reason! *grin*
jalenstrix
Oct. 25th, 2004 02:01 pm (UTC)
[grin] All reasons are good reasons, provided you're not saying, "This sounds odd and awful - it must be grammatical! I'll call it perfect!" (I actually get this far more often than one would think.)
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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