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Look sleepy Options
Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 1:46:27 AM

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If I say:

You look sleepy!
Which ones of the following are good to be used after it?

Have you been sleeping?
Were you sleeping?
Were you sleeping before I came?
Had you been sleeping before I came?

To me all of them are acceptable.
thar
Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 3:30:54 AM

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If someone looks sleepy, then it is more likely they have not slept. They need to sleep - they look like they are ready to fall asleep.

Quote:
sleepy
adjective
needing or ready for sleep.
"the wine had made her sleepy"



If they have been asleep, you would be more likely say they look half-asleep. That covers both, but adding a 'still' would mean only they have been asleep.

Quote:
half-asleep
adjective
neither fully asleep nor awake


As to the question, if you wanted to ask that - it depends on whether you are interested in what they have been doing, or how they have been. It is more natural to ask if someone has been asleep.

You would ask if they have slept if that is a requirement - ie you have to get some sleep. Have you slept? You need to have some food. Have you eaten?

But if you asking about why they appear to be in a particular state...
were you asleep (when I rang the bell - ie did my arrival wake you up? Sorry).
Have you been asleep ( is that the reason you look so groggy?)

THe 'before I came' is assumed if you use the present perfect, because that brings you up to the present.
And the past perfect is not necessary, unless there is some specific past event you are placing at the centre of attention.
eg, if someone is supposed to be working:
Were you asleep when the emergency buzzer sounded last night?
Had you been asleep in the hours before you finally responded to the emergency buzzer?

Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 3:45:05 AM

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Is it because of the word "sleep"? I remember it's OK to say "Have you been smoking?" if the person smells with cigarette smoke. But you say it's not OK to ask "Have you been sleeping?" Or is it acceptable?
thar
Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 3:53:22 AM

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The point is there is an adjective, to describe your state. And being asleep is a passive state, not an active action.

Were you asleep?
Were you awake?
Are you drunk?
Those are states

But
were you smoking?
Have you been drinking?
because that is an action.

That is why it depends on the question - are you asking about what they have been doing - sleeping? Or what state they have been in - asleep or awake? Alive or dead? It is more likely in most instances you are referring to their state, because sleeping is not normally an active choice.
You could ask if they were sleeping - but it just doesn't feel as natural in most scenarios.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 4:54:51 AM

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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
I agree - it's an unusual word ('sleep' as a verb). The opposite verb, "wake", is also irregular.
It retains some of its Middle-English inflections in some types of phrase.

I think that originally 'sleep' and 'wake' were active-type verbs.
"To sleep" was the action of moving from "awareness" to "unawareness" - we'd now usually say "go to sleep". Something that happened at a point in time - and not used much in the Progressive form.
"To wake" was (and still is) the action of moving from "unaware" to "aware". (Often now said as 'to wake up').
The adjectives (which are the participles in most verbs) are "asleep" and "awake". These are used to show the 'state'.

I sleep at ten in the evening and I wake at six the next morning.
I am asleep from ten till six. I'm awake between six a.m. and ten p.m.

It is unusual to hear 'sleeping' used in this way ("I am sleeping from ten till six.")
It's very unusual to hear 'waking' used to mean 'awake'. It sounds wrong.

So you'll most likely hear:
Have you been asleep?
Were you asleep?
Were you asleep before I came?



Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 5:51:08 AM

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How would one say:

I am asleep from 1 PM to 3 PM every day.
or
I sleep from 1 PM to 3 PM every day.
thar
Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 5:58:49 AM

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If you use the simple present, that changes things - because that makes is a habit - something you do.


Again, the choice depends on what you want to say.

It may be more natural to use the verb.
I drink a bottle of vodka every evening. I sleep from ten till six. I eat popcorn for breakfast.
I sleep from one till three in the afternoon.
Those are actions you habitually do.

But, if it is describing what state you are in, you would say you are asleep.

Did you hear the commotion last night? It has been the same every night this week.
No, I am always asleep between ten and six in the morning so I wouldn't have heard anything.

There are probably scenarios where you would say that you are always asleep between 1 and 3 in he afternoon - eg as a reason you won't hear the phone if someone calls.

Neither is right or wrong - they just express different ideas you would use under different circumstances.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2019 9:50:16 AM

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Yes -I'm not sure I was clear enough in the last post, when I mentioned the use of 'I sleep at ten PM' to mean 'I go to sleep at ten PM'.

"Sleep" as a verb, nowadays, is odd in that it is 'an action of being in a state' - somewhere between a stative verb and a punctual verb (happening just at one point in time).

"I sleep from 1 to 3 PM every day" is fine - a habit of "taking a siesta" like they do in Mexico!
However, still "I was sleeping between one and three" sounds a little odd.

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Saturday, November 16, 2019 12:37:29 AM

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Thank you! Very useful. A few follow-ups.

1 Oh... You look half-asleep! Have you been asleep?
2 Oh... You look half-asleep! Were you asleep?

I think 1 is good and I have some reservations for 2. How does it sound to you?




3 Were you asleep before I came? (Apparently OK) How about:

4 Had you been asleep before I came?

Romany
Posted: Saturday, November 16, 2019 7:05:25 AM
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

Hmmm. Not really, no, Ivan.

"You look half-asleep" MEANS/SAYS you seem to be STILL partly asleep. So you wouldn't ask "Have you been asleep?" The question is usually implied in the statement about you appearing still to be in a partial sleep-state.

Or - depending on the circumstances, you look as though you NEED to sleep - perhaps you've been working really hard to finish a report or cram for an exam.

Context - not rules - dictates which of those two you mean: you look as though you have been asleep; you look as though you need sleep.

If you think that the person has been sleeping it's natural to apologise. "Oh, I'm so sorry: you look half asleep! I can see I've disturbed you."

If you think a person is in desperate need of sleep: "You look half asleep! That's enough for now. Put your books away and go to bed."
Ivan Fadeev
Posted: Saturday, November 16, 2019 7:25:48 AM

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I see your point, Romany! But when I say: "You look as though you have been asleep" it means that I ONLY think that the person has been asleep. I may be wrong. Maybe the person hasn't been asleep. That's why I decided to make sure and hear the person's answer.

You look as though you have been asleep. Have you been asleep?

No?
FounDit
Posted: Saturday, November 16, 2019 10:01:29 AM

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Ivan Fadeev wrote:
I see your point, Romany! But when I say: "You look as though you have been asleep" it means that I ONLY think that the person has been asleep. I may be wrong. Maybe the person hasn't been asleep. That's why I decided to make sure and hear the person's answer.

You look as though you have been asleep. Have you been asleep?

No?


If the person looks as though they were asleep, it could be true, but it could also be true that they need sleep.

Since you may not be sure, you could ask the question several ways.

"Were you asleep?"

"Did I wake you?"

"You look tired. Do you need to sleep?"



We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
Romany
Posted: Saturday, November 16, 2019 3:26:34 PM
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Joined: 6/14/2009
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

Ah! But that way you're in a cleft stick, Ivan!

If you GENUINELY think the person has been asleep the first thing you'd do is aplogise - how rude I've been to awaken you. If you HAVEN'T woken them they just say "No, I wasn't asleep, I think I'm coming down with the flu." (or something)

But if you only THINK they might have been asleep, and they haven't been, then they're going to think they look terrible - all puffy-eyed and messy-haired and somewhat dopey!!
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