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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,
What is the question tag for: 'I read?'
Example: I read an article now
Is it 'don't I?'
Thanks in advance

Hi dappleofmyi,

Yes, that's right! I read is in the present simple, without an auxiliary verb, so the tag is don't I?.

One other thing - if the sentence is about reading now, it should probably be in the present continuous: I'm reading an article now, aren't I?.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I have a question.
What is the question tag for hadn't had?
Example: You hadn't had time, had you? or had had you?

Thanks in advance

Hi dappleofmyi,

Had you? is the right tag. The question tag just uses the auxiliary verb :)

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

What if the sentence in is future tense with no helping verb.which tags to use in this case?

Hello Raksha Jha,

Could you please give us a specific example?

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello LaurenceMartin,

The sentence is correct. The word 'stop' is not a verb here but part of a noun phrase (the bus stop) and the 's is a contraction of 'is':

The bus stop's over there, isn't it?

The bus stop is over there, isn't it?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

Children have to get up early for school, don't they?
Some say haven't they?
Is this correct or not?

Hello Ali qas,

Both forms are used, but I think don't they is preferable from a grammatical standpoint as the verb have to generally uses the auxiliary do rather than inversion for questions and negatives.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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