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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

I know you don't answer questions but I hope you can find a way around this for me. I'm from an english-speaking country and I'm pretty good with grammar and question tags. But this question puzzled me because the subject involved was an indefinite pronoun. The question says 'no one is there to reply,___? It confuses me because i don't know the right pronoun to use for an indefinite one. I assumed they for a second but even if it was right it would require me changing the verb. So any thoughts?

Hello Tega,

Your first instinct was correct! In this cotnext we use 'they' and a different auxiliary in the tag. It's a good example of the use of they for non-gendered/unidentified singular.

No-one is there to reply, are they?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi!
What is the question tag for the following sentence:
We won't have to work tomorrow. My answer is 'should we?' Is it correct?
Also,
'We won't work tomorrow, will we?' Or is it 'shall we?'

Hi rajupunchayil,

The question tag is will we? for both sentences. When the sentence has a modal verb (won't, in these two sentences), use that modal verb in the question tag, but change it from negative to positive (or vice versa): won't --> will.

Does that make sense?

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

That's good! Let's proceed.

Hi there!
I have several question that I want to ask you.
The first question: Is it possible to use "had" in the sentence that have there as a subject, For example

There had something right there.

Please help me, I don't know the rule of using there as a subject.
If you have more advice, please leave it to me too!
Thank you very much, Love from Thailand!

Hi Furuku,

No, you can't use have as a main verb with 'there'.

'There' is what we call a dummy subject. It can be followed by be, by modal verbs and by a few other verbs such as seem, appear etc.

 

In English, there and it can be dummy subjects. We have a page on the topic:

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar-reference/it-and-there-as-dummy-subjects

 

There is some debate about whether particular uses (such as the use of 'it' to talk about weather) are really dummy subjects. You can read more about that here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dummy_pronoun

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

He gave up smoking,.....................? complete

Hello abo omar,

I'm afraid we don't provide answers for questions from elsewhere. We're happy to explain the rules of English and which something may be correct or incorrect, but we don't provide answers to questions from homework or tests.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

thank you for your help but can I say " He gave up smoking , did he ? "
as a question tag because give up has a negative meaning

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