So Do I, Neither Do You: 4 Simple Rules for Agreeing and Disagreeing in English

So Do I, Neither Do You
4 Simple Rules for Agreeing and Disagreeing in English

Susan Verner
by Susan Verner 8,181 views |

You can’t agree with everyone all of the time, but you can teach your ESL students how to express their feelings about other people’s opinions.

In fact, agreeing and disagreeing in English is quite easy once you know the patterns.

These types of sentences can be broken down into four different categories. Two patterns follow positive sentences. Two patterns follow negative sentences. Here is how to teach your students about agreeing and disagreeing in English.

4 Simple Rules for Agreeing and Disagreeing in English

  1. 1

    Step One: What Follows Positive Statements

    Before giving your students the rules, give them a sheet with the following sentence pairs. Ask groups of two to three students to see if they can figure out what the rules are for agreeing and disagreeing in English.

    1. I like dogs better than cats.
      So do I.
    2. She ate pizza for lunch.
      So did he.
    3. You look terrible.
      So do you.
    4. I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!
      So could I.
    5. I will be at the meeting on Friday.
      So will I.
    6. I like cats better than dogs.
      I don’t.
    7. He ate pizza for lunch.
      She didn’t.
    8. You look terrible.
      You don’t.
    9. I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.
      I couldn’t.
    10. I will be at the meeting on Friday.
      I won’t.

    After groups have their discussions, let each group share their ideas with the class. See if any groups were able to identify the patters for agreeing and disagreeing in these sentences. Then point out to your students that one thing each of these examples has in common is that its first sentence is a positive statement. Some of the examples show agreement with that statement. Others show disagreement with it. Whether agreeing or disagreeing with a positive statement, English speakers follow a pattern.

    To agree with a positive statement, follow this pattern.

    So + auxiliary/modal verb + pronoun
    e.g. I like Ike.    So do I.

    Examples one through five show agreement with positive statements. Another option for agreeing with a positive statement is the following.

    Object pronoun + too
    e.g. I like Ike.    Me, too.

    Show your students how they could use this pattern in examples one through five, or show them one or two examples and have each group come up with the rest of them.

    Examples five through ten show disagreement with a positive statement. To disagree with a positive statement, follow this pattern.

    Pronoun + auxiliary/modal verb + not (or make the verb a negative contraction.)
    e.g. I like Ike.    I don’t.

    Once your students understand these patterns, have them rewrite the examples in numbers one through five by disagreeing with the statements. Then have them rewrite examples six through ten by agreeing with the statements.

  2. 2

    Step Two: What Follows Negative Statements

    Once you have reviewed the rules for agreeing and disagreeing with positive statements with your students, give them this list of examples that use negative statements. Challenge them to come up with the rules for agreeing and disagreeing after negative statements.

    1. I will not be there for the party.
      Neither will I.
    2. She can’t win at arm wrestling.
      Neither can he.
    3. They are not going on the field trip.
      Neither are we.
    4. You don’t look happy.
      Neither do you.
    5. I don’t like the cold weather.
      Neither do I.
    6. I can’t wait until summer is here.
      I can.
    7. I have never been to South America.
      I have.
    8. I don’t think that’s a good idea.
      I do.
    9. She isn’t going to pass the course.
      He is.
    10. They didn’t find jobs.
      You did.

    Give the class time to share their ideas and whatever patterns they saw in the examples. Then review the following rules.

    To agree with negative statements, follow this pattern.

    Neither + auxiliary/modal verb + pronoun
    e.g. I don’t like lima beans.    Neither do I.

    It is also grammatically correct to use nor to begin a sentence which agrees with a negative statement.

    e.g. I don’t like lima beans.    Nor do I.

    While grammatically correct, this is more formal speech and is not often used casual spoken English. If you like, have students rewrite examples one through five using nor in place of neither.

    To disagree with negative statements, follow this pattern.

    Pronoun + auxiliary/modal verb in its positive form
    e.g. I don’t like lima beans.    I do.

    Once your students understand these patterns, have them rewrite the examples in numbers one through five by disagreeing with the statements. Then have them rewrite examples six through ten by agreeing with the statements.

  3. 3

    Step Three: Practice

    Once your students know the patterns, give them a chance to practice. Try one or more of the following activities.

    1. Going along with the crowd
      In this activity, your students will agree and disagree with their classmates until they find the group of people who share their opinion. To play, print off slips of paper for your class members. Half of the papers should have a positive opinion about one thing and the other half should have a negative opinion about the same thing. For example, your slips of paper might read as follows. I like snow. I do not like snow. Students should pretend to have the opinion written on their paper throughout the exercise. On your go, students will walk around the room and talk to their classmates one at a time. One person will state their opinion, and the other person will either agree or disagree with it. If the person disagrees, both students move on to talk to someone else. If they agree, the two students stay together and approach a third student. Students continue talking to each other and agreeing or disagreeing until the class is divided into two separate groups based on their opinions. If you like, do their activity again with another set of opinions.

    2. Shuffling along
      Prepare some index cards, which you will hand out to your students. Each card should express one opinion statement. Some statements should be in the negative form, others in the positive form. You can use statements such as the following.
      • I like learning English.
      • I enjoy travelling.
      • I want to make lots of money.
      • I do not like raw fish.
      • I am not good at sports.
      • I have not been to Europe.
      Shuffle the cards and hand one out to each student. The student will pretend that the statement on his card is his opinion throughout the activity. He must then go to each member of the class and read the statement on his slip of paper. The other students should agree or disagree with him according to their own opinions. When they do, he should note their answers. When everyone in class has talked to everyone else, have each person tell the class whether more people agreed with him or more people disagreed with him.

    3. I’m Unique, Are You?
      To play this easy game, divide your class into groups of four to five students each. Each person must write down an opinion she holds on an index card. The statement must be true, and she should write something which she thinks no one will agree with. Once everyone in the group has written down their opinions, one person reads their card. Everyone in the group takes a turn either agreeing or disagreeing with the statement. If no one agrees with the statement, the student keeps the card. If someone agrees with the statement, the card is no longer in play and should be discarded. At the end of the round, students write down another statement on a new card and play again. Play continues until one person has three cards in her possession.

We all can’t agree with everything all the time, and no one expects us to.

That’s why these exercises agreeing and disagreeing will be so useful for your students. Not only will the information be useful, your students will have fun getting to know their classmates better and letting their classmates get to know them, too.

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