Tag Questions

What is a tag question?

A tag question is a short question added to the end of a positive or negative statement.

For example:-

He is,
isn't he?
He does,
doesn't he?
He will,
won't he?
He can,
can't he?
How are they formed?

Normally a positive statement is followed by a negative tag, and a negative statement is followed by a positive tag.

For example:-

+ -
You're English,
aren't you?
- +
You're not German,
are you?

!The statement and the tag are always separated by a comma.

The verb in the statement should be the same tense as the verb in the tag.

For example:-

Present tense present tense
You are a good singer, aren't you?
Past tense past tense
You didn't go to work yesterday, did you?
Present perfect tense present perfect tense
You have been to London, haven't you?

If the verb used in the statement is an auxiliary verb, then the verb used in the tag must match it. If a modal (can, could, will, should, etc.) is used in the statement, then the same modal is used in the tag part. If the statement doesn't use an auxilliary verb, then the auxiliary do is used in the tag part.

For example:-

Auxiliary verb  
She is from England, isn't she?
They aren't very nice, are they?
She doesn't like it here, does she?
Modal verb  
You can sing, can't you?
They shouldn't do that, should they?
No auxiliary  
He eats meat, doesn't he?

Why do we use them?

Tag questions are used to verify or check information that we think is true or to check information that we aren't sure is true. Sometimes we just use them for effect.

We show the meaning of the tag question through intonation.

If the tag is a real question it has a rising intonation.

For example:-

soundThe chairman's coming at 3.00, isn't he?

If the tag is not a real question it has a flat or falling intonation.

For example:-

soundIt's a nice day today, isn't it?

!It is possible for a positive statement to be followed by a positive tag for even more effect (sarcasm, anger, disbelief, shock, concern etc.).

For example:-

soundOh you will, will you?

soundYou think you're funny, do you?

Note! You can practise asking and answering questions on our Live Chat page, or Discord Server. Or maybe log into a Chat AI program and ask it some questions, just be careful of the answer you get.