Podcast: Shorter questions – Inglês Online

Podcast: Shorter questions

By Ana Luiza | Podcast Inglês Online

Jun 13
Inglês - Podcast Shorter questions

Hi, all. How’s it going? Nesse episódio do podcast Inglês Online falamos sobre como você vai ouvir perguntas às vezes de gente que fala muito rápido em inglês.


Hi, everyone. What’s up? Today we have a new episode of the inglesonline podcast. To download or just listen to other episodes and download transcripts, go to inglesonline.com.br and click Podcast Inglesonline.

So let’s take a look today at something that may confuse you if you’ve been listening to podcasts or watching TV series and films in their original language.  This is something that took me a while to acquire – what I mean by this is, it took me a certain amount of listening to English to finally get this and absorb it, and incorporate it to my speech. It didn’t make sense to my ears in the beginning, but… enough with the mystery. I’m talking about the way the beginning of some questions is omitted in everyday speech.  What do I mean by that? I’ll show you.

These are a couple of questions you’ll hear people ask in everyday conversation:

  • Anyone have a pen?
  • Everyone see the show?

They may sound weird to you. You may ask yourself, Are these really questions?  They sound wrong. After all, we learn that ‘anyone’ and ‘everyone’ are the third person of the singular and therefore, we say ‘anyone has’ and ‘everyone sees’.

Well, let’s see: take the first one, Anyone have a pen? That is actually the quick, shorter version of Does anyone have a pen? When people are talking fast they will often skip “Does” and just go with the rest of the question. In my first few months in the US I would often say something like “Anyone HAS a pen?” because in my mind ‘anyone’ goes with ‘has’, not ‘have’.

This is a question, though, and it is a question in the present tense. The present tense calls for does when you’re using anyone. We say Does anyone have a pen? And, of course, one way to make ‘Does anyone have a pen?’ shorter is by skipping that little word at the beginning, ‘does’, and saying simply Anyone have a pen?

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And that is exactly what many native speakers do and that’s why you will sometimes hear things like Anyone know what time the movie starts?, which comes from Does anyone know what time the movie starts?. Or Get it?, which comes from Do you get it? and You know what I mean?, which comes from… you guessed it. Do you know what I mean? The last two don’t sound so weird because we’re used to “you know”.

And here’s the other example I gave at the beginning: Everyone see the show? If you don’t get this question and you think “everyone see” sounds super weird… here’s why: this is a shorter version of Did everyone see the show? The speaker is obviously talking to a group of people and he or she wants to know whether everyone in the group saw a certain show. The auxiliary word “did” in Did everyone see the show? disappears and the question asked by this fast-talker becomes Everyone see the show?

Now, you may be asking yourself “But how would I know? How can I know this person is asking a question in the past if they’re not starting the question with DID” Well, the same way you know when a friend sees you and asks “So, how was the party?” What party is your friend talking about? Oh, your girlfriend’s birthday party. You told your friend yesterday that your girlfriend was gonna throw a big party to celebrate her birthday. Your friend sees you today and asks about the party. You know immediately what he’s talking about.

Same thing with that other person. When they ask “Everyone see the show?” they’re talking to people who are going to get the question, because they have talked about this show before. Maybe they talked about it last week and everyone was really excited to watch this show, which aired on Saturday. So when this guy asks “Everyone see the show?” people immediately get what he is talking about. He’s asking about the show that aired last Saturday. The question is Did everyone see the show?, but this guy is a fast-talker and the question becomes Everyone see the show?

How about this one: Anyone lose their wallet? It comes from Did anyone lose their wallet? Whoever is asking that will likely be holding a wallet he or she found laying around. “Anyone lose their wallet?” And by the way, credit goes to Steve Ford for letting me know that these are all examples of ellipsis. Here’s the definition according to Merriam-Webster Online:

“Ellipsis is the omission of one or more words that are obviously understood but that must be supplied to make a construction grammatically complete.”

So there you have it. Fast-talkers are frequent users of ellipsis, I’m sure, so if you happen to be one of them or if you’ve heard an example of ellipsis recently- please let us know in the comments! Talk to you next time.


Key expressions

Shortened questions (examples of ellipsis)



Fast-talker = uma pessoa que fala rápido

  • […] like I cared that much é uma forma mais abreviada de It’s not like I cared that much. “It’s not like”, usada desta maneira, […]

  • Jeorge Luis de Freitas Braga says:

    Ana voçê esta de parabéns pelo seu grande trabalho, e uma pena que ainda não estou aproveitado como quero, mais pretendo aprofunda-se cada vez mais
    O ingles olaine e o melhor….

  • Jonatas says:

    Marcelo, my friend, and I used to talk in English some nights, when we go out with our guys. We only know to speak a little English and we try to talk so. It’s funny because I’ve spoke about Inglês Online website to him and he’s… how I say it… a little lazy to study more than he already does. Well, he makes ellipsis and doesn’t know that. I pay more attention to grammar than him. It’s just a reason to “fazer piada/tirar sarro” him.
    By the way, we talk like this. When we miss expression or really don’t know it, we throw words in portuguese to complete the phrase. Kiss Ana (:

  • Ana Luiza says:

    Everyone, as always I love your participation in the comments. Thanks and stick around!!

  • Hello Ana! I found this podcast interesting and easy to understand audio.
    I thank you Ana!

  • Gerson says:

    Hi, I found it very interesting! I’ve always wanted to know how to use properly these kinda questions.
    I supoused it was just the simple present with a “?” at the end. Now I finaly got it and I think I can identify those uses pretty fast.

    Thank you Ana!!!

  • Ernando says:

    Well done Ana! I love your website and I always come here to listen to your podcasts. I got a question about the pronunciation of “Auxilary”, you pronounced it like “agzilari” but isn’t it “ogzilari” the right pronunciation?

    • Ana Luiza says:

      Ernando – hmm, I do not recognize either one of them. Head over to the Free Dictionary website and look auxiliary up and you’ll be able to hear it.

  • denis andrade says:

    Hello Ana!

    I love your site! It has helped me a lot.

    Never give up of this project!

    Denis Andrade

  • Sergio says:

    It’s was really helpufull tip for us. Thanks a lots and keep doing those good jobs! Successfull for you.

  • Luiz Henrique says:

    Congratulations Ana!!!! your podcast is very good!!!

    Best regards


  • mauro says:

    It was a great tip and will help us a lot !

  • Gtoni says:

    \o/ Congratulations !!! You did a great job in this podcasts.
    You openned my mind about this big doubt that I had!! Thanks and Keep it up!!!

  • @julianinhamatos says:

    I always find these short questions watching American sitcoms like “Friends” which every character talks spontanously fast… I never thought that was an ellipsis like we use in Portuguese… but looking to grammar it really sounded wrong for me too. Great tip, Ana!

    • Ana Luiza says:

      Hi Ju. That’s great that you’ve been spotting these ‘short questions’ on your own, specially on such a fast-talking show as Friends!! Congrats.

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