Question tags in English

You don’t know what a question tag, do you? This sentence itself has a question tag.

Here are some examples using question tags in them:

  • You love studying English, don’t you?
  • She hasn’t kissed you yet, has she?
  • We can’t go there, can we?
  • He really helped us in the project, didn’t he?
  • You could do that, couldn’t you?
Question tag in English

Now, let’s understand what a question tag in English is.

What is a question tag In English?

A question tag is a short question used at the end of a statement, positive or negative, when we want someone to agree with our statement or confirm it.

Question tags are more common in spoken English than written English.

Formation of a question tag

A question tag is formed using a helping verb and the subject of the previous statement. Note that the helping verb in the question tag has to be in the same tense that the main statement is in.

NOTE: if the statement is positive, the question tag will be negative, and if the statement is negative, the question tag will be positive. A comma has to be put before the question tag.

Structures:

Positive statement + comma + Negative question tag (helping verb + not + subject?)

Negative statement + comma + Positive question tag (helping verb + subject?)

  • Your friends have betrayed you, haven’t they?
  • He has a lot of bad habits, doesn’t he?
  • She does not have a boyfriend, does she?
  • You don’t smoke, do you?

To be able to use the right auxiliary verb (helping) in the question tag, you must know the tense of the statement.

Here’s list of tenses and their helping verbs:

TENSESAUXILIARY VERBS (helping)
Simple present tensedo, does
Present continuous tenseis, am, are
Present perfect tensehas, have
Present perfect continuous tensehas, have
Auxiliary verbs in present tense
Simple past tensedid
Past continuous tensewas, were
Past perfect tensehad
Past perfect continuous tensehad
Auxiliary verbs in past tense
Simple future tensewill, shall
Future continuous tensewill, shall
Future perfect tensewill, shall
Future perfect continuous tensewill, shall
Auxiliary verbs in future tense
  • Your father loves beating you, doesn’t he?
  • I don’t have skills to get this job, do I?

Both the sentences are in simple present tense, and the helping verbs in question tags are used according to the tense and the subject.

  • You are not coming with us, are you?
  • She is dating you, isn’t she?

Here, the statements are in the Present continuous tense, and the helping verbs in the question tags are following the tense and the subject.

NOTE: If the statement has a modal auxiliary verb in it, use the modal verb in the question tag.

  • He can’t come with us, can he?
  • We should bring him in, shouldn’t we?
  • Max would beat me in seconds, wouldn’t he?
  • She must leave that guy, mustn’t she?

Question tags with “TO BE” form of verbs (MAIN VERBS)

  • She is not the right person for me, is she?
  • You were not ready, were you?
  • I am not a good dancer, am I?
  • I am your best friend, aren’t I?

If a positive statement has ‘am’ as the helping verb or the main verb, it becomes “aren’t” in the question tag.

More examples of question tags:

  • That guy was stupid, wasn’t he?
  • Most people ignore you, don’t they?
  • The teachers have given a warning, haven’t they?
  • Your parents won’t allow you to go on the trip, will they?
  • I can’t box, can I?
  • He looked stupid in that dress, didn’t he?

Practice set!

  1. You are like my family.
  2. The classes are over.
  3. Has she called you yet?
  4. Your friends hate me.
  5. India has won the match.
  6. You haven’t been doing it.
  7. She hasn’t come from Goa.
  8. We won’t let him do it.
  9. Nobody can do it.
  10. We shouldn’t join him.

Answers:

  1. You are like my family, aren’t you?
  2. The classes are over, aren’t they?
  3. (Only a positive or a negative statement can have a question tag after them.)
  4. Your friends hate me, don’t they?
  5. India has won the match, hasn’t it?
  6. You haven’t been doing it, have you?
  7. She hasn’t come from Goa, has she?
  8. We won’t let him do it, will we?
  9. Nobody can do it, can anyone?
  10. We shouldn’t join him, should we?
Question tag in English

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