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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

Language level

Intermediate: B1
Upper intermediate: B2

Comments

Hi there,

How would you explain/justify an unusual question tag after the following clause: "I do not think we could get away with that, DO you?"

Hello Paul,

This is actually a normal situation, though the sentence is a bit more complex than the examples on this page since it has two verbs. The question tag 'do you' refers to the verb 'I don't think'; since 'don't think' is negative, the question tag is affirmative 'do you'.

As you can see, the question tag doesn't refer to 'could get away with', but rather the verb 'think' that frames the sentence.

Does that make sense?

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Have a nice day, Kirk and the team,

My name is Van, from Hanoi, Vietnam.

Would you mind helping me to clarify which one is the correct answer for the following sentence:
"There has been little rain in this area for too long,_______?"
A. has it B. has there C. hasn't it D. hasn't there

Thank you.

Hello Van,

Sure thing -- the last one is the best form here.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Question tag for the following sentence would be???

You must come to the party, ____?

Hello Tim,

I'd say 'right' here, which can be used as a kind of universal question tag, but you could also form it with the modal verb used in the sentence: 'mustn't you'. There's nothing grammatically wrong with using 'mustn't' as a question tag, but it's a bit unusual.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi there!
Please tell me how to change the following sentence to Interrogative-negative sentence

=> It has a laminated cover.

Hello Tim,

Doesn't it have a laminated cover?

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Kirk, please tell me if 'has' is the main verb of the following sentence?

It has a laminated cover.

Hello Tim,

Yes, in fact, 'has' is the only verb in the sentence. I suppose you could call 'laminated' a type of verb since it's derived from one, but it has an adjectival function here.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

 

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