Dammit, people, if you’re going to write a Canadian character, you can’t just throw “eh” in wherever. It’s not a verbal tic - it has a very specific semantic role.
In brief, “eh” does one of two things:
- Turn an imperative into a request. e.g., “Pass me that wrench, eh?”
- Turn a statement into a question. e.g., “Cold out there, eh?”
In the latter case, there are several situations where it’s commonly used:
- The speaker is not sure that the statement she’s just made is correct, and is asking the listener to confirm. e.g., “That’s about forty kilometers West of here, eh?”
- The speaker is checking that the listener is still interested and wishes for her to continue, but does not expect any specific response. e.g., “So then this freakin’ moose shows up, eh?”
- The speaker is being sarcastic. e.g., “You really thought that one through, eh?”
When used in this way, “eh” is roughly equivalent to appending “isn’t it?” (“doesn’t it?”, “didn’t you?”, etc.) to the end of a sentence; interestingly, it also functions very much like the Japanese “ne”, which has a nearly identical effect when appended to a statement.
Now you know.