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Question tags

by | Mar 23, 2020 | English Grammar | 0 comments

Question tags, also called tag questions, are short question fragments added at the end of an affirmative or negative sentence/statement turning it into a question. For example: It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it? So the statement “It’s a beautiful day” is turned into a question by adding “isn’t it?” at the end of the sentence.

In a nutshell, a question tag is a short question placed at the end of a statement. Question tags are mostly used in spoken English and it’s an excellent way to keep a conversation going by asking the other person to make a comment.

  • They are used with rising intonation when the speaker expects a response.
  • With falling intonation the speaker does not expect any response.

How to form question tags?

be/auxiliary (do or have)/modal auxiliary (can, would etc.) + subject pronoun

To form a question tag, use the auxiliary from the first clause/statement the following ways:

After a positive statement => use negative question tag.

  • He’s on holiday, isn’t he?
  • It was awful, wasn’t it?

After a negative statement => use positive question tag.

  • She won’t be late, will she?
  • You wouldn’t tell mom, would you?

Special cases of question tags

Present simple

When the verb of the statement is in the Present Simple, use do or does to form the question tag.

  • You play golf every week, don’t you?
  • Joe doesn’t drive fast, does he?

Simple past

When the verb of the statement is in the Simple Past, use did to form the question tag.

  • You played golf yesterday, didn’t you?
  • Joe didn’t drive fast, did he?

Let’s ….

When the sentence starts with “Let’s…” the question tag is: “shall we”

  • Let’s go to the cinema, shall we?
  • Let’s have a pizza, shall we?

Don’t …

When the sentence starts with “Don’t…” the question tag is: “will you”

  • Don’t come empty-handed, will you?
  • Don’t be late, will you?

I’m …

After “I’m” in the main clause, use the “aren’t I” question tag.

  • I’m too fat, aren’t I?
  • I’m correct, aren’t I?

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