Question tags

Do you know how to use question tags like is he and didn't you?

Look at these examples to see how question tags are used.

You haven't seen this film, have you?
Your sister lives in Spain, doesn't she?
He can't drive, can he?

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Question tags: Grammar test 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

We can add question tags like isn't it?, can you? or didn't they? to a statement to make it into a question. Question tags are more common in speaking than writing.

We often use question tags when we expect the listener to agree with our statement. In this case, when the statement is positive, we use a negative question tag.

She's a doctor, isn't she?
Yesterday was so much fun, wasn't it?

If the statement is negative, we use a positive question tag. 

He isn't here, is he?
The trains are never on time, are they?
Nobody has called for me, have they?

If we are sure or almost sure that the listener will confirm that our statement is correct, we say the question tag with a falling intonation. If we are a bit less sure, we say the question tag with a rising intonation.

Formation

If there is an auxiliary verb in the statement, we use it to form the question tag.

I don't need to finish this today, do I?
James is working on that, isn't he?
Your parents have retired, haven't they?
The phone didn't ring, did it?
It was raining that day, wasn't it?
Your mum hadn't met him before, had she?

Sometimes there is no auxiliary verb already in the statement. For example, when:

... the verb in the statement is present simple or past simple and is positive. Here we use don't, doesn't or didn't:

Jenni eats cheese, doesn't she?
I said that already, didn't I? 

... the verb in the statement is to be in the present simple or past simple. In this case we use to be to make the question tag:

The bus stop's over there, isn't it?
None of those customers were happy, were they?

... the verb in the statement is a modal verb. Here we use the modal verb to make the question tag:

They could hear me, couldn't they?
You won't tell anyone, will you?

If the main verb or auxiliary verb in the statement is am, the positive question tag is am I? but the negative question tag is usually aren't I?:

I'm never on time, am I?
I'm going to get an email with the details, aren't I?

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Question tags: Grammar test 2

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Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 01/12/2020 - 08:29

In reply to by Stellaaa

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Hello Stellaaa,

Neither sentence is correct, I'm afraid. We use tag questions after affirmative sentences, not after questions. The correct forms would be:

You forgot your umbrella, didn't you?

You didn't forget your umbrella, did you?

In the first sentence, the speaker is sure that the other person forgot their umbrella. The question is not really asking for information, but for confirmation.

In the second question, the speaker is either not sure that the other person forgot their umbrella or is very surprised about it. The question suggests us that the speaker cannot believe that this is the situation.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by rudresh007 on Fri, 27/11/2020 - 10:12

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Why should we add Question tags

Hi rudresh007,

Question tags are mainly used in speaking. If you say something and you want someone to confirm or disagree with it, you can add a question tag to your statement. The question tag invites the listener to respond. They're really useful :)

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ataur Rahman on Sun, 22/11/2020 - 14:21

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Yes. That makes sense. Many many thanks for your kind answer.

Submitted by Ataur Rahman on Fri, 20/11/2020 - 14:35

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What's about Tag-question with Complex and Compound Sentences?

Hi Ataur Rahman,

The answer is a bit complicated! Let's take an example complex-compound sentence.

  • You love chocolate and you eat it every day, even though it’s not healthy

 

How we make the tag question depends on which part the tag refers to. We can say this:

  • You love chocolate and you eat it every day, even though it’s not healthy, is it? (the tag refers to 'it's not healthy')

 

If we want the tag to refer to 'You love chocolate' or 'you eat it every day', we should reorganise the sentence to keep the tag next to that part, so that the meaning is clear. So:

  • Even though chocolate’s not healthy, you love it and you eat it every day, don't you? (the tag refers to 'you eat it every day')
  • You eat chocolate every day, even though it’s not healthy, and you love it, don't you? (the tag refers to 'you love it')

 

Does that make sense? If you see any examples of this that you'd like to discuss, feel free to post them here.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ataur Rahman on Thu, 12/11/2020 - 10:28

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What's about Tag-question after Compound Sentence and Complex Sentence?

Hi Ataur Rahman,

You can use a question tag in compound or complex sentences, but you need to make sure that it's clear to the reader or listener what the question tag refers to. It's harder to do that with long sentences.

For example:

-- Your sister lives in Spain because her company moved there, doesn't she?

In this sentence, the question tag is separated from the thing it refers to ('Your sister lives') by other information, so it's hard to understand. We can rephrase the sentence like this:

-- As your sister's company moved to Spain, she lives there now, doesn't she?

That keeps the question tag close to what it refers to. In this way, you can phrase your sentence according to what part of it you want the question tag to focus on.

-- He can't drive and you can't either, can you? (focuses on 'you can't drive')
-- You can't drive and he can't either, can he? (focuses on 'he can't drive')

Does that make sense?

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Jonathan, Thanks for your feedback. You are experienced and knowledgeable. Your answer made me satisfied. But I think, the Tag question about Compound Sentence - has been silently ignored here. Please, try to clear it.

Hi Ataur Rahman,

OK, I'm glad the answer helped. About compound sentences, I would give a similar explanation. Although compound sentences have a different structure to complex sentences, they are similar since both types have two parts. It's important to clarify which part the question tag relates to, and I suggest putting that part at the end of the sentence. My last two examples above (He/You can't drive ...) are compound sentences, and here are some more examples:

  • Anyone can take the test, and most people do, don't they? ('they' refers to 'most people')
  • Most people take the test, and anyone can take it, can't they? ('they' refers to 'anyone')
  • Andy agrees but Sara disagrees, doesn't she?
  • Sara disagrees but Andy agrees, doesn't he?
  • A storm is coming; this is bad news, isn't it? ('it' refers to 'This')
  • This is bad news: a storm is coming, isn't it? ('it' refers to 'a storm')

If you want to use the question tag to refer to the whole sentence, including both parts, right? or isn't that right? are useful options (especially in speaking).

  • Sara disagrees but Andy agrees, right?
  • Sara disagrees but Andy agrees, isn't that right?

I hope this covers what you wanted to know. Please let us know if you have other questions about it.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Jonathan, Thanks for your feedback. So, it is clear that - in the case of Compound or Complex Sentenc, we should follow the "Principle of Proximity" so that the desired/targeted part of the sentence is directly followed by the tag.

Hi Ataur Rahman,

Yes :) That's right.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Zamra on Sat, 07/11/2020 - 15:39

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I'm sure it will great fun, won't it be? Is this right?

Hello Zamra,

That's almost correct, but you need to remove the last 'be':

I'm sure it will be great fun, won't it?

In question tags we use only the auxiliary verb (here: will > won't), not the main verb (here: be).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Luz Hidalgo on Tue, 27/10/2020 - 04:33

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Hi guys, Could you please help me with this tag? I'm aware that if the statement is negative, I must write a possitive question tag. But in this case, what it puzzles me is the use of the auxiliary: You never have eggs and toast for breakfast, do you? I'm not sure if using the auxiliary "do" is correct or not because in this sentence we have the verb "have". My interpretation would be that "have" here is used as a verb and not as an auxiliary, am I right? Thanks a lot for your help!! Regards from México

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 27/10/2020 - 07:44

In reply to by Luz Hidalgo

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Hi Luz Hidalgo,

The correct tag here is 'do you', as you say.

In this sentence, never marks the sentence as negative, and requires a positive tag. As you say, have is a main verb here.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot for your support!!! I'm a big fan of you guys! =)

Submitted by Tega on Mon, 12/10/2020 - 17:51

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I know you don't answer questions but I hope you can find a way around this for me. I'm from an english-speaking country and I'm pretty good with grammar and question tags. But this question puzzled me because the subject involved was an indefinite pronoun. The question says 'no one is there to reply,___? It confuses me because i don't know the right pronoun to use for an indefinite one. I assumed they for a second but even if it was right it would require me changing the verb. So any thoughts?

Hello Tega,

Your first instinct was correct! In this cotnext we use 'they' and a different auxiliary in the tag. It's a good example of the use of they for non-gendered/unidentified singular.

No-one is there to reply, are they?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by rajupunchayil on Mon, 12/10/2020 - 17:45

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Hi! What is the question tag for the following sentence: We won't have to work tomorrow. My answer is 'should we?' Is it correct? Also, 'We won't work tomorrow, will we?' Or is it 'shall we?'

Submitted by Jonathan R on Tue, 13/10/2020 - 03:52

In reply to by rajupunchayil

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Hi rajupunchayil,

The question tag is will we? for both sentences. When the sentence has a modal verb (won't, in these two sentences), use that modal verb in the question tag, but change it from negative to positive (or vice versa): won't --> will.

Does that make sense?

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by emmanuelniyomugabo12 on Fri, 25/09/2020 - 23:40

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That's good! Let's proceed.

Submitted by Furuku on Sun, 20/09/2020 - 19:40

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Hi there! I have several question that I want to ask you. The first question: Is it possible to use "had" in the sentence that have there as a subject, For example There had something right there. Please help me, I don't know the rule of using there as a subject. If you have more advice, please leave it to me too! Thank you very much, Love from Thailand!

Hi Furuku,

No, you can't use have as a main verb with 'there'.

'There' is what we call a dummy subject. It can be followed by be, by modal verbs and by a few other verbs such as seem, appear etc.

 

In English, there and it can be dummy subjects. We have a page on the topic:

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar-reference/it-and-there-as-dummy-subjects

 

There is some debate about whether particular uses (such as the use of 'it' to talk about weather) are really dummy subjects. You can read more about that here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dummy_pronoun

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by abo omar on Sun, 06/09/2020 - 00:38

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He gave up smoking,.....................? complete

Hello abo omar,

I'm afraid we don't provide answers for questions from elsewhere. We're happy to explain the rules of English and which something may be correct or incorrect, but we don't provide answers to questions from homework or tests.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

thank you for your help but can I say " He gave up smoking , did he ? " as a question tag because give up has a negative meaning

Hello abo omar,

Yes, that is possible.

You can use either didn't he or did he as the tags here, but there is a difference in meaning:

He gave up smoking, didn't he? > the speaker is sure this is true and is asking for confirmation

He gave up smoking, did he? > the speaker is surprised and is checking that the information is correct; this is often used as a response to surprising information

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by prasiddha Poudel on Fri, 28/08/2020 - 05:18

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Please reply me all answer i have done all in exam but i need answer so reply me as soon as you see this message ........ The questions goes like this :- Smoking is injurious to health, isn't it? Ram’s sister burst into tears, ………? These books are reprinted, ………? I’m going to keep the ball in this box, …? I am a doctor, ………? I’m late today, ………? I’m fond of listening to music, ………? I’m not an actor, ………? We’ll take dinner at six, ………? Somebody is knocking at the door, ……? Some of you can speak Newari, ………? Some of them have brought a book, ……? Nobody can solve this problem, ………? Nobody has bought this book yet, ……? He and I were playing carom, ………? He must attend the party, ………? Her brother can’t lift it, ………? The film wasn’t exciting, ………? They’re planting potatoes yesterday, …? She has forgotten my name, ………? You could come early, ………? There are some books in the rack, ……? There was a tree in front of my house, …? She won’t be late, ………? I shouldn’t have torn it, ………? He took me to the church, ………? Ajay told them a story, ………? His mother scolded him, ………? She feels shy, ………? My friend lit the lamp on it, ………? He forgot to bring his notebooks, ………? Sunita passed the examination, ………? They made us work hard, ………? Heena stops talking, ………? They prefer swimming in the sea, ………? Somebody comes here everyday, ………? One can’t reach the sun, ………? Her father printed the letter himself, …? Her dog chased the cat, ………? Nobody goes outside, ………? Nobody has informed them about the robbery, ………? They often go to Pokhara by air, ………? Bimla doesn’t like parties, ………? Somebody stole my pen, ………? Everybody has their pen, ………? You seem upset today, ………? Your husband likes swimming, ………? Everything is all right, ………? He spoke very well, ………? They went to school together, ………? I saw her yesterday, ………? She found her lost doll, ………? Bharat made a nice film, ………? It rained last week, ………? He beat the dog, ………? The dog bit him, ………? She put on her clothes, ………? She had many friends, ………? We had our meal together, ………? The girl danced beautifully, ………? The poor woman has many children, …? You never spoke to me, ………? I rarely went shopping, ………? My mother hardly cooks, ………? Your father paid for the tickets, ………? He had his supper with me, ………? We have a cow, ………? We have got some cows, ………? She has gone to the market, ………? Her father looked at me, ………? I have got a story book, ………? You and she have called me, ………? Her husband died of cancer, ………? Gita has had several difficult jobs, ……? She shut the door, ………? The woodcutter cut the tree, ………? He hits his sister daily, ………? They hardly come to school, ………? I cut the paper into pieces last week, …? We put out the fire yesterday, ………? I put on my clothes daily, ………? You left the gas on, ………? None of them went to see her, ………? Your name is Gopal, ………? Come and see me tomorrow, ………? Let them do what they like, ………? Let’s pretend we are not here, ………? Let’s go to the cinema, ………? Let him read the text, ………? Let’s have some break fast, ………? Come back soon, ………? Let’s work hard, ………? Let him read the letter, ………? I suppose he didn’t call her, ………? Read the book carefully, ………? Let us read an English book, ………? Go ahead, ………? Never come late, ………? Kindly lend me some money, ………? Boys, wash your clothes, ………? Sarita, keep quiet, ………? Give me the pen please, ………? Open the door, ………? The sheep ran away themselves, ……? His habit of smoking irritates everybody, ………? Walking in the morning is good for health, ………? You didn’t answer my invitation, ……? You’d better go now, ………? You’d better call the police, ………? I’d rather stay here, ………? One of my friend had problem of money, ………? He had enough money to bur a car, …? Tomorrow is Thursday, ………? They had a calculator, ………? I don’t think my friends will come, …? You ought to listen to your teacher, …? They ought not fight in the classroom, ………? These are ripe mangoes, ………? Those were cricket players, ………? There must a play ground, ………? There is a table, ………? One has to be dutiful, ………? She could barely break it, ………? Aesop’s fables were famous, ………? There are only ten questions in this examination, ………? I think he hasn’t slept at night, ………? Your exam is at hand. Don’t waste your time, ………? Mr. Shah teachers us English, ………? There is a cat in the garden, ………? He lives here, ………? John drinks too much, ………? I am very stupid, ………? The girl dances very well, ………? You needn’t go back soon, ………? They had their lunch yesterday, ………? Sita never reads a newspaper, ………? Sita read a story, ………? It’ll rain, ………? He’s a chemist, ………? They didn’t complain, ………? You like tea, ………? I’m here, ………? She is too young, ………? You always have your lunch at 20.30 PM, ………? Bankers are always the same, ………? Everything is perishable, ………? I’m tired and hungry, ………? Everything is ready, ………? Niru never gets angry, ………? Gopal and Krishna will finish the work on time, ………? None helped me last week, ………? Let me open the door, ………? Please sit down, ………? Students don’t go to school on Saturday, ………? Someone is waiting for you, ………? Mr. Rai is a wealthy man, ………? Devkota wrote Muna Madan, ………? Ten kilos of rice was bought, ………? There is a big pond in front of the Durbar School, ………? Everybody knows the answer, ………? Have another cigarette, ………? Dad, let me start a new business, ……? You’d do your home daily, ………? You’d done your homework, ………? Sital looks clean and tidy, ………? I am never with you, ………? Mingma has never been to Kathmandu, ………? They’d rather do this, ………? He’d better stop drinking, ………? Students have to study hard, ………? She hardly studies, ………? Let’s go to Nagarkot, ………? He’s already gone out, ………? Try to be a little more polite, ………? She seldom does her homework, ……? Everyone was there, ………? You’d better attain the party, ………? There lived an old hermit in the forest, ………? You’d better not bring you dictionary, ………? Ann’s brother applied for the job, ………? They’d built a nice house, ………? They’d build a nice house, ………? He’d better go by bus, ………? We’d rather prefer coffee, ………? Mind your own business, ………? None of the students brought their calculators, ………? Hema used to be kind to me, ………? Uma hardly pass the exam, ………? She’s done her work, ………? I’d better not teach them, ………? i hope i will get answer fast .....

Hello prasiddha Poudel,

I'm afraid this isn't the kind of help we offer on this site. We're happy to help our users with things they don't understand such as particular points of grammar or lanaguage use, and we're happy to explain particular examples. However, we don't provide an answering service for users taking tests or completing homework tasks!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

ok thanks for reply Peter Sir can u help me When i ask you question at any time i need a teacher like you ....plz tell how i contact you online .....its request from yours student

Hi again prasiddha Poudel,

If you have a question then you can use the comments section of any relevant page. We are a team here and we all check for comments to answer every day. Not every comment is answered as we are a small team and the help we can provide is limited, but we do our best.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Fidan_Gassim on Tue, 25/08/2020 - 10:41

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Hello, thanks replying my previous question. I have another problem about few/little and a few/ a little. I have a few friends, don't I? I have few friends, do I? Are both the questions true?

Hi Fidan_Gassim,

Yes, both are correct. But their meaning is different. A few has a positive meaning, and few has a negative meaning.

  • I have a few friends (= some friends; a number of friends)
  • I have few friends (= not many; not enough; I want more friends)

There's the same difference between a little and little.

  • I have a little time (= some time; enough time)
  • I have little time (= not much; not enough)

Does that make sense?

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Fidan_Gassim on Tue, 25/08/2020 - 00:15

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Hi They were certainly there, for he saw them, weren't they? Or didn't he which one is correct. Generally, in sentence with fantboys which side is main in tag questions. Thanks a lot

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 25/08/2020 - 08:42

In reply to by Fidan_Gassim

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Hello Fidan_Gassim,

You could use either tag, but to avoid confusion the tag should follow the verb to which it refers rather than being separated by another clause:

They were certainly there, for he saw them, didn't he?

They were certainly there, weren't they, for he saw them.

In the second sentence the question tag is purely rhetorical and so no question mark is needed.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Aditya Sharma on Mon, 17/08/2020 - 10:09

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These are the new students, ________? Sir, what will be the question tag here in this sentence? Please answer...

Submitted by Fondow on Tue, 04/08/2020 - 13:49

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Hello Is it correct to say, "Nobody is there, is there?" Thank you

Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 04/08/2020 - 15:56

In reply to by Fondow

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Hello Fondow,

People would certainly understand you, but that sounds odd to me. If you changed it slightly and said 'There isn't anyone there, is there?' (notice the main verb is negative and the question tag is affirmative) that would be correct. Or you could say 'Nobody is there, right?'.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by bjn92band23 on Sun, 26/07/2020 - 18:41

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hello, i have this sentence :"it is impossible for him to be financially independent at such an early age,?..." , i asked many people and have 2 answer : "isn't it" and "is it" . Which one is true? Thanks

Hello bjn92band23,

Could you please explain this a bit more? I'm not sure I understand what the question is, as both forms are grammatical.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Karan Narang on Fri, 24/07/2020 - 04:36

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I have quite doubt about question tag Can we use daily for taking some people. As I talk at home,shop and many places. Also I have example which is confusing me. I am going to get an email, aren't I ? Why did use aren't instead I am in question tag ? Could you help me.

Hello Karan Narang,

It is correct to use aren't I as the question tag like this. The reason we use this, I think, is that it is very hard to pronounce amn't I and so the form has shifted over time to one which is easier to say. Interestingly, if you do not use the contraction then am is still the correct form:

I am going to get an email, aren't I? [correct]

I am going to get an email, am I not? [correct - very formal]

I am going to get an email, amn't I? [incorrect]

I am going to get an email, are I not? [incorrect]

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Alain Gustave on Tue, 07/07/2020 - 18:12

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Hello. Please help me with this sentence. ''There were few women at the gathering'' What's the correct tag? Is it ''There were few women at the gathering, weren't there?'' Or ''There were few women at the gathering, were there?'' Does the word ''few'' suggest a negation?

Hello Alain Gustave,

You could use either weren't there or were there as a tag here.

The difference is that weren't there indicates that the speaker expects confirmation. In a sense, it is not a real question but rather a rhetorical device. By contrast, were there shows that the speaker is either surprised and is asking if the information is really true, or else is not sure and wants to get an answer.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by abymonly on Tue, 07/07/2020 - 03:53

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What is the Question tag to be used for the sentence ->Let's not play chess shan't we? or shall we?

Hello abymonly,

The correct form here is shall we.

When the verb form in the main clause is let's, the tag is formed with shall not shan't.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir it means for sentences begin with Let's(Let us) either it is positive or negative ,the tag is shall we?