Learn how to form Question Tags and useful grammar rules in forming Question Tags in English with examples.
Question tags are the short questions that we put at the end of sentences – particularly in spoken English.
Question Tag in English
What are Question Tags?
Question tags are a grammatical construct used in English to turn a statement into a question or to confirm or elicit a response. They are short phrases that are added to the end of a statement, usually consisting of an auxiliary verb and a pronoun. They are used to ask for confirmation, clarification or agreement.
For example, “It’s cold today, isn’t it?” is a statement “It’s cold today” with a question tag “isn’t it” which turns it into a question. They can also be used to make a request more polite, such as “Can you help me, please?” where “please” is a question tag.
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?
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?
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.
Examples of Question Tags
Here are some examples of question tags:
- It’s raining, isn’t it?
- You like chocolate, don’t you?
- She’s from France, isn’t she?
- They’re late, aren’t they?
- He’s a doctor, right?
- You’re going to the party, aren’t you?
- You’ve been to Paris before, haven’t you?
- It’s cold today, isn’t it?
- She’s not coming, is she?
- You’re happy, aren’t you?
The Benefit of Using Question Tags
- They help to confirm or elicit a response: By adding a question tag to a statement, you can ask for confirmation or clarification, which can help to ensure that you and the person you are speaking with are on the same page.
- They can make a request more polite: By adding a question tag to a request, you can make it sound more polite and less demanding.
- They can add emphasis or surprise: By adding a question tag to a statement that is surprising or unexpected, you can add emphasis and create a more dramatic effect.
- They can be used to show interest: Question tags can be used to show interest and encourage the other person to continue talking.
- They can be used for making suggestions: Question tags can be used to make suggestions in a polite and non-threatening way.