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

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Average: 4.2 (5 votes)

Hello Abhi1999,

I assume you mean when is 'do' needed in the question tags for these sentences. You have to look at the tense of the verb in each sentence. If the tense is present simple or past simple, you need to use 'do/does' (for present simple) or 'did' (for past simple). In 2, 'has' is present simple, so the question tag is 'doesn't she?' and in 3 'needed' is past simple, so the tag is 'didn't he?'.

There is one exception to this rule: when the verb is 'be', we don't use 'do/does/did' to make the question tag. Instead we just use 'be' in the negative. So for 1, the tag is 'isn't she?'.

Hope that helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by TracyHoang on Mon, 07/11/2022 - 05:59

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Hi team,
Can you tell me what is the tag of "I wish to study English better,.............?" and "She wishes to go to Singapore,..........?"
Thanks so much!

Hello TracyHoang,

Perhaps I'm just not imagining the situation correctly, but it seems a little strange to use a question tag in the first sentence because it means the speaker is questioning their knowledge of their own wishes. Also, the verb 'wish' is rather formal for this kind of sentence. But I suppose you could say 'don't I?' here.

The second one is also a little strange because of the formality of 'wish' as a verb. But here it is affirmative and in the third person, so the tag is 'doesn't she?'

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by janemorgan on Thu, 20/10/2022 - 15:59

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When we use the verb to be with the pronoun I we know it's correct to say: I am your teacher, aren't I?

What about the past tense of the verb to be?

We say I was your teacher, wasn't I? or we say I was your teacher, weren't i?

Thanks in advance

Hello janemorgan,

The reason we use aren't I in first-person tag question is quite simple: it would be almost impossible to pronounce *amn't I!

We can see that it's really a question of pronunciation because when we use the tag in a non-contracted form, which is possible if rather theatrical and pompous-sounding, we actually say am I not.

The past form is easier: we use was just as in any first-person form (wasn't I).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Faii on Mon, 17/10/2022 - 07:15

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Hi!
Could you help me with this ?which one is correct?
They explained that she couldn't take the course,didn't they/couldn't she ?

I'm actually not sure which clause will refer to the tag
Thanks

Hello Faii,

The tag refers to the main clause ('They explained'), so the correct one is 'didn't they?'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Polina0705 on Tue, 11/10/2022 - 12:50

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Hello The LearnEnglish Team!
I wonder, what to use in such sentences 'Spend an hour of your time enjoying these views, ...' and the similar sentences without subject. Is it better to use 'don't you' or 'won't you'? And is it simply possible to use question tags here?

Hello Polina0705,

Without knowing where or how the sentences are being used, I'm afraid I can't say for sure, but these appear to be commands. It's fairly unusual to use a question tag with second-person commands, but if one were to be used, 'will you' or 'would you' would probably best.

This is because 'will' (and 'would' as a variant form of 'will') can be used to speak about a person's willingness to do something. As far as I know, we usually use an affirmative question tag -- that is, 'will/would you' and not 'won't/wouldn't you' -- with such commands. In this case, they're not so much seeking confirmation from the listener, but rather soften the command a bit, almost as if we were saying 'please'.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by badri.rao2008 on Fri, 02/09/2022 - 04:41

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Hey.... I have a couple of Questions and need to understand if they are right?

Snow is white, Isn’t It?
Very few cities in India are as big as Chennai, aren’t they?
A Glass of Water is not better than a glass of Juice, Isn’t It?
This has been tested for quality, hasn’t it?

Are the above correct or need corrections. Please kindly help me. Thank You.