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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

Hello Dusan,

Ain't is generally found in US English. It is very informal and may not be appropriate in some contexts, particularly in writing, but it is not incorrect.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Managers had an interesting meeting, didn`t they?
or
Managers had an interesting meeting, had not they?

Hello Gaba

The first one is correct.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Gaba

'didn't they' is the question tag for this sentence. I would recommend you ask your teacher about this, but if you cannot, I would recommend you choose that answer.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi!
For example I have a sentence :
I have got a bike,...?
How to make this tag : "don't I" or "haven't I"?

Hello Anastasiaaaa

Both of those are correct in this case.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Can we say:
We shall play well in the game, shan't we?

Hello Baxtyar

This would sound very unusual nowadays. For one thing, 'shall' is not used to speak about the future; it is used to make offers or suggestions. Secondly, 'shan't' is almost never used in ordinary speaking or writing.

A more common way of expressing this idea would be 'We're going to play well, aren't we?' or 'We're going to play well, right?'

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Bharati

Yes, that's right. I was responding to the way Baxtyar's sentence used 'shall'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

So why do English reuse "ought" in question tag for "ought to", for example, You ought to stay indoor, oughtn't you?
Isn't right that what is true for goose, it is so for the gander?
What is the difference between "ought to" and "need to"?
Aren't they both semi-modals?
Wasn't "need" reused in tags either old English or various dialects?
Thanks.

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