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 (109 votes)

Hi Faii,

If you say "Yes (I am)", it means you are going out (i.e., you contradict the statement).

If you say "No (I'm not)", it means you are not going out (i.e., you agree with the statement). Or, you can simply say "Right".

I hope that helps :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Roshkook on Tue, 10/05/2022 - 08:29

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So the staff at my school made a test paper with the question
There is little water in the bottle _____________?
There is debate about whether the answer should be
a) isn't there? b) is there?
I understand that little is a negative idea
For example for the question tag
Little can be done to improve the situation, can it?
However, I still feel that putting the answer they're looking for (is there?) would make the sentence feel more clunky than it should be.
I feel the better sentence would be
There is little water in the bottle isn't there?

Would you have any input on the question?
Thank you!

Hi Roshkook,

I think it is ambiguous. If the question is intended to elicit confirmation of or a response to what the speaker already knows to be true, I would use "is there?" (and a falling intonation). If it is intended as a genuine question to find out the real answer, I would use "isn't there?" (and a rising intonation). Both intended meanings seem plausible to me for this sentence but since it is only a sentence without any context, we have no other clues about which meaning is intended and that's why I find it ambiguous. That's just my view :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by DonEnglish on Tue, 03/05/2022 - 16:11

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The word "child" in question tag we use he/she if we know. If we don't know we use they .good!
What about the word "baby" question's tag ?
Thank you in advance. Please reply fast .

Hello DonEnglish,

Like with 'child', the first choice would be to say 'he' or 'she' if we know the baby's sex. If not, I think most people would say 'it'; some, though fewer, might say 'they'. It's not uncommon to use 'it' to refer to a baby whose sex is unknown.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by TracyHoang on Tue, 12/04/2022 - 09:05

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Dear sir,
What is the correct question tag for this sentence. Is the first or the second tag correct?
1: He could have bought a new car, couldn't he?
2: He could have bought a new car, hasn't he?
Thanks so much,
Tracy

Hello TracyHoang,

1 is correct and 2 is now.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anjalibudhamagar on Mon, 11/04/2022 - 17:18

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What is the question tag for What is your name? And how old are you?

Hi anjalibudhamagar,

Question tags change a statement into a question. They can't be added to questions, only to statements. So you could ask, for example:

  • Your name is Sam, isn't it?
  • You're 25 years old, aren't you?

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Giao Huynh on Fri, 08/04/2022 - 05:53

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Hello everyone,
What is the question tag for : "This is my father,..........?"
I know the question tag for "This is" is "isn't it" like in: "This is my book, isn't it?"
Is it OK to use "isn't it" for peple as well?
Thanks,

Giao