11 - Is he old enough to drive?

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How long has George's sister been driving?  

 

A year or two. She got her driver's license when she was eighteen.        

 

Is George eighteen yet?  

 

He will be next month. But why all the questions?  

 

I just wondered if he's old enough to get a license.  

 

Of course he is. He already has his learner’s permit.  

GLOSSARY

Driver's license and learner's permit are two more examples of noun-noun combinations with the major stress on the first word.

He will be (eighteen) next month. In reply to a question, the last part of the predicate is often omitted if it has already appeared in the question. When the auxiliary thus stands for the whole predicate, it carries a strong stress, and therefore is not contracted (NOT he'll be).

Why all the questions? = ellipsis for Why are you asking all the questions?

CULTURAL BACKGROUND

The age in most states for obtaining a regular driver's license is 18 (sometimes 16 on completion of an approved driver-education course). This license is issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles of the state after the applicant successfully passes a road test of his ability to drive and a written test of his knowledge of traffic rules and regulations. Most states will issue a learner's permit at age 16, but it is forbidden for a learner to operate a car without the presence of a licensed driver. License rules and regulations vary from state to state, and a person who changes his legal residence from one state to another must apply for, and in many cases take the tests for, a new license in the new state. In many states today, driver's licenses are good for three years, after which they must be renewed.

Source: English Teaching Forum - Author: Julia Dobson

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