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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 Sariyya0909,

When the main clause contains an affirmative verb, the tag question is normally negative. Thus, in the first example we have will come and so in the tag we have won't they.

 

In the second example, we still have will come but there is a negative verb introducing it (don't think) and this means that we use an affirmative form in the tag (will they).

It doesn't matter if you say I don't think they will or I thinnk they won't:

I think they won't come to school, will they?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Is it
Don't forget your appointment, will you?
And is it
Paul will join the football team, won't he?

Hello Celesiia

It's pretty rare to use a question tag with imperative statements, but, yes, you could say the first sentence. You can read a little more about this on this page.

The second sentence is also correct.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. I am confused about the use of question tags with "he wouldn't have allowed it"
is it "would he have?" or "would have he?"
I guess whatever rule applies would extend to should and could?

I think it's simple way of making learners understand by saying,"when you have two helping verbs in the sentences you get the first helping verb in the tag question." Pl correct if it needs.

Hello aurora kastanias,

In question tags we repeat only the modal verb, not the perfect have. Thus, the tag would be as follows:

He wouldn't have allowed it, would he?

 

The rule applies to all perfect modals - should have, could have etc.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much. I was really struggling with it!

Is it correct to say: I am going to be late, ain't I?

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?

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