Question tags

Question tags

Do you know how to use question tags like is he and didn't you? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help 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

Average: 4.2 (105 votes)

Hi Anne_Rei,

It's the same tag as for most other verbs, using do. Here are some examples.

  • You have to go home now, don't you?
  • We had to work hard yesterday, didn't we?

But if have is an auxiliary verb, have is used in the tag as well, for example:

  • She has arrived, hasn't she?

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by rhsubedi99 on Sat, 02/04/2022 - 12:39

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What is tag of 'I don't think she is fine,.....?' I think "is she?"

Hello rhsubedi99,

Question tags aren't typically used in sentences beginning with 'I think' (or 'I don't think'). This is because a question tag invites the other person to confirm what you said, but since the sentence begins with 'I think' (or 'I don't think'), it's as if you were asking them to confirm what you think -- this is odd at best and in most cases unnatural.

One could say 'I don't think she's fine. Is she?', but I'm not sure I'd call this a question tag, as there's be a pause between the statement and the question tag.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nirajan_KC on Fri, 25/03/2022 - 15:15

Permalink

The sun sets in the west, doesn't it? Someone says this is wrong. I wonder why?

Submitted by faraz on Tue, 18/01/2022 - 08:15

Permalink

Excuse me sir,
What would be the better question tag for I hate you,....?
Do I? Or Don't I?
Thankyou.

Hello faraz,

Both of these question tags are grammatically correct, but have different meanings.

The kind of question tag our page focuses on shows that we expect the answer to the main question to be true: 'I hate you, don't I?' means that I expect your answer to be 'yes'. This is the most common type of question tag, where the question tag is negative if the other verb is affirmative, and the question tag is affirmative if the other verb is negative.

There is another, less common type of question tag, however, which has an affirmative verb in both parts: 'I hate you, do I?' In this case, we don't know what the answer is -- we think the answer could be 'yes' or 'no'.

You can read more about this on this Cambridge Dictionary page (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/tags), where they explain the second type in more detail.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello rhsubedi99,

We'll be happy to help but first why don't you let us know what you think it is? We'll let you know if your answer is correct and tell you the answer if you get it wrong.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team