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Question Tags

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The short questions we put at the end of sentences are called question tags. They are normally used when speaking. There are many different question tags but the main idea is fairly straight forward.

Usually if the sentence is positive then the question tag is negative and if it is negative then the question tag is positive.

John’s at work, isn’t he? (positive sentence + negative question tag)
You’re a teacher, aren’t you? (positive sentence + negative question tag)
He isn’t here, is he? (negative sentence + positive question tag)
You don’t know him, do you? (negative sentence + positive question tag)

Auxiliary verbs and modal verbs

The question tag uses the same verb as the main sentence.
They have gone abroad, haven’t they?
You’re Italian, aren’t you?
She is coming to the party, isn’t she?
He had never been there, had he?
He can play the guitar, can’t he?
They shouldn’t have said that to her, should they?

If there is no auxiliary verb in the sentence then ‘do’ is used in the question tag.
You like red wine, don’t you?
You don’t speak Japanese, do you?

It’s important to remember this difference with ‘I am’ in a question tag.
I’m late, aren’t I?


The important thing to understand with question tags is the intonation. If the question is being asked because you want to know the answer then the real question has a rising intonation.
If the question is being asked because you want agreement or confirmation then the question has a falling intonation.

Lesson by Tristan, teacher at EC Malta English school

Use the correct question tag for the end of these sentences:

  • 1 - “Hi Julia. I hardly recognised you. You’ve changed your hairstyle,___”

  • 2 - “ Joe does know about the party tonight, ___”

  • 3 - “She hasn’t got a husband, ___”

  • 4 - “You have been here before, ___”

  • 5 - “We shouldn’t be expecting so much from him, ___”

  • 6 - “The film starts at 9 o’clock, ___”

  • 7 - “They are coming from London, ___”

  • 8 - “I’m the first to arrive, ___”

  • 9 - “He will be tired,___”

  • 10 - “I sure they wouldn’t mind if we just went over, ___”