Question tags are the short questions that we put on the end of sentences – particularly in spoken English.
Question Tags in English – Video
We use tag questions to check information or to ask for agreement.
1. The Rules for Forming Question Tags
There are lots of different question tags but the rules are not difficult to learn.
The basic rules for forming the two-word tag questions are as follows:
- The subject in the statement matches the subject in the tag.
- The auxiliary verb or verb to be in the statement matches the verb used in the tag.
- If the statement is positive, the tag is usually negative and vice versa.
- He’s read this book, hasn’t he?
- He read this book, didn’t he?
- He’s reading this book, isn’t he?
- He reads a lot of books, doesn’t he?
- He’ll read this book, won’t he?
- He should read this book, shouldn’t he?
- He can read this book, can’t he?
- He’d read this book, wouldn’t he?
2. Some Exceptions in Forming Question Tags
When we use the “there…” structure, “there” is reflected in the tag:
- There’s nothing wrong, is there?
- There weren’t any problems when you talked to Jack, were there?
When “everything”, “something”, “nobody”, etc is the subject in the statement, we use “it” in the tag.
- Something happened at Jack’s house, didn’t it?
When “everybody”, “someone”, “nobody”, etc is the subject in the statement, we use “they” in the tag.
- No one phoned, did they?
- Somebody wanted to borrow Jack’s bike, didn’t they? Who was it?
3. Question Tag Intonation
If we use a rising intonation in the tag, we do not know or are not quite sure of the answer. If we use a falling intonation in the tag, we are seeking the agreement of the person we are talking to.