Grammar

Guide to Tag Questions in English

August 29, 2018

Guide to Tag Questions in English

Guide to Tag Questions in English

What is a tag question?

A tag question is a short question at the end of a statement. In English, we use them to confirm that something is true (or untrue) or to encourage a response from the person we are speaking with.

Here is an example of a tag question.

You are a teacher, aren’t you?

This is very similar to asking this question:

Are you a teacher?

However, because this is a tag question, we are confirming that something is true. The tag question suggests that we know the person is a teacher (but we want confirmation that this is true). The second question is more vague: we probably don’t know if the person is a teacher.

Notice in our example we have a positive and a negative part of the question.

You are a teacher, aren’t you?

Guide to Tag Questions in English

Forming tag questions

The tag question will change depending on the verb(s) in the positive statement.

Auxiliary Verbs

Whatever auxiliary verb is in the first part of the sentence is the same one we use in the second part of the sentence.

  • She is Canadian, isn’t she?
  • She isn’t Canadian, is she?
  • They aren’t married, are they?
  • They are married, aren’t they?
  • You can speak French, can’t you?
  • You can’t speak French, can you?
  • You will be at my party, won’t you?
  • You won’t be at my party, will you?

Present Simple

When the verb of the first part of the sentence is in the present simple, then we use do/does in the tag.

  • You like ice cream, don’t you?
  • You don’t like ice cream, do you?
  • You live by the beach, don’t you?
  • You don’t live by the beach, do you?

Past Simple

When the verb of the first part of the sentence is in the past simple, then we use did in the tag.

  • You studied in Florence, didn’t you?
  • You didn’t study in Florence, did you?
  • You lived in San Francisco, didn’t you?
  • You didn’t live in San Francisco, did you?

You can basically continue this pattern for all of the English tenses.

  • She is living in Spain, isn’t she?
  • They were traveling in Europe, weren’t they?
  • He has been to Thailand, hasn’t he?
  • You haven’t met my mom, have you?
  • He hadn’t met you before tonight, had he?
  • You hadn’t been thinking about canceling the party, had you?

 

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