This paper focuses on English yes-no interrogatives of the type Would you like/Do you want [NP]? and their elliptical variants You like/You want [NP]?, Like/Want [NP]? and [NP]?. The central question is what type of theoretical relationship can be assumed between the different forms. A theoretical discussion of different traditional approaches and their limitations is followed by the presentation of an explorative corpus search in the BNC, which can reveal interesting differences between the different stages of initial reduction, in particular regarding the semantic class of the NP head nouns: While the possible lexemes found in the full forms and intermediate reductions seem only restricted by pragmatic constraints, the highly reduced [NP]? question displays only lexemes related to the semantic class of consumption goods.
Construction Grammar (CxG) is suggested as a useful approach to explain the internal relationships between the different forms, especially because it offers the option of lexically open idiomatic structures, assumes a usage-based, hierarchical network with different degrees of independence between single constructions, and allows for an integration of pragmatic features into a grammatical model.