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

Do you need to improve your English grammar?
Join thousands of learners from around the world who are improving their English grammar with our online courses.
Average: 3.9 (10 votes)

Submitted by Rajat Verma on Thu, 14/05/2020 - 16:03

Permalink
What will be the question tag for:- `I am working hard on this book'

Hello Rajat Verma,

When the main verb in the sentence is am, we use are in the tag. Thus, the correct question tag here is aren't I.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sakinkadery on Tue, 12/05/2020 - 16:53

Permalink
I have a question, haven't I? I have a question, don't I? Which one is correct?

Hello sakinkadery,

When have is used as a main verb, as in your example, the correct auxiliary for negation, question formation and for use in tags is do. The second example is correct.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Henok17 on Thu, 07/05/2020 - 15:41

Permalink
Hello What is the difference between this two ? You are a pilot, aren't you ? aren't you a pilot ? I can't find any differences.
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 08/05/2020 - 06:51

In reply to by Henok17

Permalink

Hello Henok17,

The second sentence is a normal question. It does not tell us what the speaker expects; it only asks for information.

The first sentence is called a tag question. It is still a question, but it also tells us something about what the speaker thinks. The speaker believes that the other person is a pilot, and is asking for confirmation. In other words, the speaker will be surprised if the answer is not 'Yes, I am'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by nguyen huu hoa on Tue, 05/05/2020 - 16:34

Permalink
hello He hardly has anything nowadays , does he ? or He hardly has anything nowadays , has he ? thanks
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 06/05/2020 - 07:42

In reply to by nguyen huu hoa

Permalink

Hello nguyen huu hoa,

We only use have/has in tag questions when it is used as an auxiliary verb in the main clause: a perfect form (have/has + verb3: have gone, has been etc) or have got.

In your example, has is the main verb, so does is needed in the tag. The first sentence is correct.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sariyya0909 on Mon, 04/05/2020 - 15:06

Permalink
Hello I think they will come to the school, won't they? I dont think they will come to school, will they Could you explain it please?
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 05/05/2020 - 07:13

In reply to by Sariyya0909

Permalink

Hello Sariyya0909,

When the main clause contains an affirmative verb, the tag question is normally negative. Thus, in the first example we have will come and so in the tag we have won't they.

 

In the second example, we still have will come but there is a negative verb introducing it (don't think) and this means that we use an affirmative form in the tag (will they).

It doesn't matter if you say I don't think they will or I thinnk they won't:

I think they won't come to school, will they?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team