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 (123 votes)

Hello aja3171,

The sentence is fine. This is an example of a tag question and there are three variants:

1. positive verb + negative tag: She seems smart, doesn't she?

2. negative verb + positive tagShe doesn't seem smart, does she?

3. positive verb + positive tag: She seems smart, does she?

The first and second constructions have the same usage: they show that the information is known and not surprising. They are rhetorical questions which do not necessarily require answers.

The third construction is different. We use this when we are surprised at something the other person has said and we are showing this surprise and asking for confirmation. It has a similar meaning to 'Really? I didn't know/expect that.'

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by thuy1211 on Mon, 31/07/2023 - 06:35

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Please help me with this question tag
"That he didn't pass the exam made his parents sad,____?"
A. Did it. B. Didn't it
Thanks

Hi thuy1211,

The main verb is "made" (positive verb), so the question tag should normally be negative: "didn't it?".

However, it's also possible to use "did it?". When the main verb is positive, you can also use a positive verb in the question tag ("did it?") if you want to express disbelief or suspicion. We don't have any suggestion of disbelief or suspicion in the example, though, so if this is a test question then "didn't he?" is likely the intended answer.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Noelski on Mon, 10/07/2023 - 12:34

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I am a bit confused about the question tag when the statement is positive and uses the main verb 'have' in the present simple.
E.g. You have a lovely house, don't you?
Or, You have a lovely house, haven't you?
She has a blue car, doesn't she? Or, She has a blue car, hasn't she?

Hi Noelski,

I'll try to help! If "have" is the main verb, use "do" in the question tag (e.g. You have a lovely house, don't you? She has a blue car, doesn't she?).

But if "have" is the auxiliary verb, use "have" in the question tag (e.g. You have been to France, haven't you? You've got a car, haven't you?).

Occasionally, you may see "have" used as a main verb but behaving like an auxiliary verb, e.g. Have you any money? (= Do you have any money?). In this usage, the question tag would also be with "have" (e.g. She has a blue car, hasn't she?). This usage, however, is uncommon and somewhat old-fashioned in style, but I thought I'd mention it in case you see it around.

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Iamcecilia2612 on Thu, 08/06/2023 - 01:55

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Please help me with this and explain it clearly!
'You are unhappy, _____?'
Should we use 'are you' or 'aren't you'?
In this case, the main verb is 'are' but the statement has a negative meaning because of the adjective 'unhappy'.

Hello Iamcecilia2612,

The adjective having a negative meaning does not change anything; the tag question is based on the verb form.

 

Both are you and aren't you are possible here. The negative (aren't you) is more common and is used when the speaker is sure about the answer and is asking for confirmation. The positive tag (are you) is less common and is used to show some surprise or even disbelief. It is generally used when a person learns a new fact and is saying in effect 'Oh really?'

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by MPhayTp on Wed, 07/06/2023 - 17:45

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1.You have read the book, haven't you?
2. You haven't read the book , have you?

What's the difference?

Hello MPhayTp,

In the first sentence the speaker is sure that the other person has read the book and is asking for confirmation.

In the second sentence the speaker is showing surprise that the other person might have read the book. It has a similar meaning to 'Surely you haven't read the book!' - surprise, shock and disbelief.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Long Khanh on Mon, 05/06/2023 - 05:11

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Greetings. Could you help me with this question tag: We have to leave here early,________(A. don't we, B, haven't we?)