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 (13 votes)

Hello robincherly,

Normally a sentence needs to have a verb for a question tag to make sense. Here I assume the full idea is 'There is no heaven for pagans' and so the question tag would be 'is there?'

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Sun, 19/12/2021 - 18:03

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Sir,
Is it unprofessional to leave a space before a question mark at the end of the sentence like this ?

Hello SonuKumar,

It might be appropriate in some styles, but in all of the British and American English styles I have seen, there is no space between the last word in a sentence and the question mark.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ting_Tu on Sat, 30/10/2021 - 09:30

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Hi, I saw a question on an English test for kids.
Ex: It looks like an ant. “ Is it”?

Is it grammatically correct? I was wondering why it isn’t “doesn’t it” Written at the end. And it confuses me.
Thank you for the response in advance.

Hello Ting_Tu,

If it's a test on question tags, then you are right in thinking that the tag should be 'doesn't it'.

If it's not that, then the sentence is possibly correct. It could be a question which the speaker uses to ask the other person if their perception is correct. For example, if a very small child drew a picture and I wasn't sure what it was, I could say to them 'It looks like an ant. Is it?' When I say 'Is it?', I mean 'Is it (an ant)?'

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir I have a question . what Kiran likes most is he likes to play the guitar at the concert.... doesn't he or isn't he which one is correct.

Hello rayamajhirajan,

I'm afraid neither of those question tags works well here. Instead, I'd suggest using 'isn't it?': 'What Kiran likes most is playing the guitar at the concert, isn't it?'

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by KAKA on Sat, 23/10/2021 - 20:02

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First: What is the difference between:
1- I am late, am I not?
2- I am late, aren't I?

Second: Why this tag question is wrong?
I am late, am not I?

Hello KAKA,

The tag 'am I not' is much more formal and even old-fashioned; it is rarely used in modern English other than in a self-consciously formal manner or in extremely formal settings (speeches in court or parliament, for example).

Question tags use the inverted form verb+subject+negation unless they are contracted (they are usually contracted). Thus we have:
is he not / isn't he
would she not / wouldn't she
can he not / can't he
does he not / doesn't he
etc.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Paul_the_teacher on Sat, 10/07/2021 - 10:28

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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?"