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 (74 votes)
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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?)

Hello Long Khanh,

I'm afraid we don't provide answers to tasks from elsewhere as we would end up doing people's homework and tests for them! We're happy to provide explanations of rules, however.

In order to identify the tag question here you need to work out if 'have' is part of have to as a modal verb of obligation similar to must, or if have here is part of a present perfect form. If it's a modal verb, then the tag question requires 'don't'; if it is part of a present perfect form then it's 'haven't'. For example:

He has gone, hasn't he? [have as part of a present perfect construction]

He has to go, doesn't he? [have meaning obligation]

 

I think you should now be able to work out the answer.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Peter,
Thank you for your prompt and clear reply.
Wish you and your team all the best.

Submitted by hanieh1315 on Mon, 17/04/2023 - 04:53

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Hi sir, sorry for my question that i wasn’t able to answer , i’m not familiar with answering.
my next question is , how can we tag this sentence?
No salt is allowed?
is it ? or is there?

Hello hanieh1315,

You are welcome to ask us specific questions related to what's on our pages.

'is it' is the correct option here. The main verb is 'is' and it has a negative meaning because of the word 'No'. The question tag should also be a form of the verb 'be' and 'is' is the correct form here.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Elena.V.Bondar on Thu, 06/04/2023 - 12:03

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May I ask a question? In the dialogue: "We've already made decision" - "So, l have no say in the matter, haven't I/don't I?" What is the right tag? Thanks.

Hello Elena.V.Bondar,

I'd use 'do I?' in this situation, though 'have I?' is also possible. Even though the phrase 'I have no say' is affirmative, it is negative in meaning and so the question tag should be affirmative.

'do I' follows 'I have' because we typically use the auxiliary verb 'do' to make questions or negatives with 'have'.

'have I' is possible because in some varieties of English, we can form a question with the verb 'have' through simple inversion of subject and verb form. This is much less common, though, so in general I'd recommend 'do I'.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Lucy Lucy on Tue, 04/04/2023 - 02:43

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Hello.Could you help me with this tag question , please? It is said he is rich, isn't it? or isn't he?

Hi Lucy Lucy,

There are two options, depending on what you want to check.

  • It is said he is rich, isn't it? - this is a question to check whether or not people say that he is rich.
  • It is said he is rich, isn't he? - this is a question to check whether or not he is rich.

However, the second option seems less likely, because the focus of the sentence seems to be more on "It is said ...". If you want to make a similar meaning using the tag "isn't he?", you could say something like: He's rich, isn't he? That's what people say.

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team