It is time for the Grammar Lesson of the Month! This May, CISL is focusing on Tag Questions, beginning with today’s post on two of the more common Tag Questions: those using the “be” and “do” verbs.

Before we talk about Tag Questions . . . . what does tag mean?


“Tag” Definitions

“Tag” is both a noun and a verb in English. As a noun, it is:

  • a label attached to someone or something for the purpose of identification or to give other information. Example: the little piece on the back of your shirt that says the company name, and maybe the shirt size.
  • a small piece or part that is attached to a main body.

As a verb, it means:

  • attach a label to. Example: After catching the bears, they were tagged, their numbers were recorded, and then they were released.
  • add to something, especially as an afterthought or with no real connection. Example: After her speech on wildlife conservation, she tagged on the information about her new book and asked the audience to buy it. 

As you can see, the word “tag” typically means a small, ‘extra’ piece of a larger whole. Tag questions follow this idea.


Tag Questions

Tag Questions are more like statements that are turned into questions. They begin with a declarative statement:

“She is German.”

And then, we add a “tag” to make this statement a question:

“She is German, isn’t she?”

We use Tag Questions when we think something is true (which is why we use a declarative statement) and want someone to agree with us. We are asking them, “Right?” or “Do you agree?”


Tag Question Form: “be” verb

Tag questions with the “be” verb in the statement follow the same formats:

Format 1: Positive , Negative ?

She is German, isn’t she?

Format 2: Negative, Positive ?

She isn’t French, is she?

Note that the tense of the “be” verb can change. For example:

  • He is tall, isn’t he? (Simple Present)
  • You aren’t Italian, are you? (Simple Present)
  • She is taking a long time, isn’t she? (Present Continuous)
  • You were living in San Francisco, weren’t you? (Past Continuous)
  • We will be working on Tag Questions this month, won’t we? (Future Continuous) NOTE: This form is a little more complicated, and we will cover this in a later post, Tag Questions, Part 2, that will be published later this month.


Tag Question Form: “do” verb

Tag questions with the “do” verb in the statement follow the same formats as with the “be” verb:

Format 1: Positive , Negative ?

You have to do the dishes tonight, don’t you?

You did your homework, didn’t you?

Format 2: Negative, Positive ?

I don’t have to do the dishes tonight, do I?

You didn’t do the extra credit, did you?

Note that we use “do” or “did” in the Tag Question, depending on which is used in the declarative statement.


Practice with Tag Questions (and fun summer activities in SD!)

The following are some sentences without the Tag Questions. Can you complete these sentences? (Scroll down for the answers.) Additionally, these sentences feature upcoming events in San Diego that our CISL students might be interested in attending. From music festivals to crawfish feeds: there are plenty of activities in May to celebrate the beautiful San Diego weather!




In this post, we focused only on Tag Questions with the “be” and “do” verbs. Stay tuned for posts later this month on Tag Questions with other verbs!

Cover photo from Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo.