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Grammar: Question Tags in English

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Positive and Negative question tags, special cases in question tags.

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.

Question Tag in English

How to Form Question Tags?

Learn how to form Question Tags and useful grammar rules in forming Question Tags with examples.

  • In general, negative questions tags follow positive statements and positive tags follow negative statements.
  • We form question tags by using the same auxiliary which appears in the main statement, together with a subject pronoun.

You’ve seen this film before, haven’t you?
She can’t swim, can she?

  • If there is no auxiliary verb or be  in the statement, we use do, does, did in the question tag.

He likes the sound of his own voice, doesn’t he?  

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.

For examples:

  • 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?

How to Form a Question tag?


  • We use falling intonation on question tags when we are checking information and we expect the listener to agree.

It’s a lovely day, isn’t it? 

  • We use rising intonation to ask a real question, when we are unsure whether the statement is true or not, or when asking for information and making requests.

You couldn’t do me a favor, could you? 

Special Cases

  • We use will/can you? or would/could you? after positive imperatives; only will you? is used after negatives imperatives.

Don’t be late, will you?

  • After statements containing negative words like never, nothing or nobody, as well as hardlybarelyseldom and rarely we normally use a positive tag.

He hardly ever phones, does he?

  • We use the pronoun they in question tags after statements with nobody/no one, somebody someone, everybody/everyone as the subject.

Everyone seemed to have a good time, didn’t they?

  • We use the verb form are/aren’t when the subject is the first person singular.

I’m right about Julie, aren’t I?

  • We use shall we after sentences with let’s go.

Let’s go for a walk, shall we?

Some Exceptions in Forming Question Tags

When we use the “there…” structure, “there” is reflected in the tag:

For examples:

  • 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.

For examples:

  • 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.

For examples:

  • No one phoned, did they?
  • Somebody wanted to borrow Jack’s bike, didn’t they? Who was it?

Some Exceptions in Forming Question Tags

Some Exceptions in Forming Question Tags

Question Tags in English | Picture

Question Tags in English

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.