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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

Hi Fidan_Gassim,

Yes, both are correct. But their meaning is different. A few has a positive meaning, and few has a negative meaning.

  • I have a few friends (= some friends; a number of friends)
  • I have few friends (= not many; not enough; I want more friends)

There's the same difference between a little and little.

  • I have a little time (= some time; enough time)
  • I have little time (= not much; not enough)

Does that make sense?

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi
They were certainly there, for he saw them, weren't they? Or didn't he which one is correct. Generally, in sentence with fantboys which side is main in tag questions.

Thanks a lot

Hello Fidan_Gassim,

You could use either tag, but to avoid confusion the tag should follow the verb to which it refers rather than being separated by another clause:

They were certainly there, for he saw them, didn't he?

They were certainly there, weren't they, for he saw them.

In the second sentence the question tag is purely rhetorical and so no question mark is needed.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

These are the new students, ________?
Sir, what will be the question tag here in this sentence?
Please answer...

Hi Aditya Sharma,

The tag is are they. We use they in the tag to replace these.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

Hello
Is it correct to say, "Nobody is there, is there?"
Thank you

Hello Fondow,

People would certainly understand you, but that sounds odd to me. If you changed it slightly and said 'There isn't anyone there, is there?' (notice the main verb is negative and the question tag is affirmative) that would be correct. Or you could say 'Nobody is there, right?'.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

hello, i have this sentence :"it is impossible for him to be financially independent at such an early age,?..." , i asked many people and have 2 answer : "isn't it" and "is it" . Which one is true? Thanks

Hello bjn92band23,

Could you please explain this a bit more? I'm not sure I understand what the question is, as both forms are grammatical.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

I have quite doubt about question tag
Can we use daily for taking some people. As I talk at home,shop and many places.

Also I have example which is confusing me.
I am going to get an email, aren't I ?
Why did use aren't instead I am in question tag ?
Could you help me.

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