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 (123 votes)
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.

Submitted by misatran on Wed, 08/03/2023 - 11:07

Permalink

Hello,

Are these two sentences correct or not?
1. She ought to finish it as soon as possible, oughtn't she?
2. I am not responsible for this, am I?

I am not sure about the correct question tags when the main verb is ought to.
And I know that when the main clause is 'I am', the question tag should be 'aren't I', but with 'I am not', do we use 'are I' or 'am I'?

Thank you so much for your help in advance.

Hello misatran,

The first sentence is correct. We use 'ought' or 'oughtn't' without 'to' in the question tag.

As far as I know, the second one is also correct. I couldn't find anything in the sources I checked about 'are I' vs 'am I' as the correct tag for an 'I am not' statement, but my sense as a native speaker says that both are OK. If I had to choose one, like you, I'd probably go with 'am I?'.

Sorry not to be able to give you a more definitive answer regarding the second one.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Puritan's view.......use Ain't for negative....
Rule is a Rule....Am goes with I....That s it....Period...No further comments.

Submitted by ojobaba1 on Fri, 03/03/2023 - 11:49

Permalink

Many think Joshua is a village boy, didn't they or don't they?
Please help. I really need help.

Hi ojobaba1,

It should be "don't they?" (present simple), because the verb in the main sentence ("think") is also in the present simple.

If the verb is in the past, the tag should be too --> Many thought Joshua was a village boy, didn't they?

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Angel y on Sat, 25/02/2023 - 03:30

Permalink

I am a good friend. Am I not?
Is the tag in above sentence correct?

Hi Angel y,

Yes, it is. It's also possible to say I am a good friend, aren't I? The version with "Am I not?" sounds a bit more expectant of a positive reply ("Yes, you are!").

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by martabentes2006 on Sat, 18/02/2023 - 12:46

Permalink

Good morning,
Could you tell me if both these tags are correct?

Take care of yourself, will you?
Take care of yourself, won't you?

Thanks

Hello martabentes2006,

It's a little unusual to use question tags with imperatives, but when they are used, the tag is normally 'will you'. Some others, such as 'would you', 'can you'/'can't you' and 'won't you' are also possible. So, yes, both of those sentences are possible.

To be honest, I'm not sure I'd ever say either of those. I'd probably use a more 'universal' question tag such as 'OK'. But I'm sure there are plenty of people who would use them, especially 'will you'.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team