Grammar section: Question tags

question tag is a short question used immediately after a sentence. The short question comes at the end, rather than being a whole direct or indirect question. We use them to check that our knowledge of something is correct, and to ask someone to agree with us.

 

a) You play the guitar, don’t you? (checking information)

b) It’s really cold today, isn’t it? (asking for agreement)

 

Question tags use the auxiliary verb + a subject that match the tense of the sentence. Notice that if the sentenceuses a positive verb, the tag uses the negative of it. If the sentence uses a negative verb, the tag is in a positive form. We use a negative sentence with a positive tag when we think the opposite is true, to show surprise, or when we want someone to agree with us.

 

c) You are a musician, aren’t you?

BUT

You’re not a musician, are you?

d) You have got a brother, haven’t you?

BUT

You don’t have a brother do you

 

You can also use a tag after a phrase with Let’s

 

e) Let’s watch a film at the cinema tonight, shall we?

 

Another use of it is after an imperative (a command).

 

f) Pass me that book, will/would/could you?

 

If your question tag is after everyone, no one and someone, we use the plural subject, they.

 

g) Everyone can read, can’t they?

 

If the sentence/phrase starts with there, you use there in the tag.

 

h) There is a festival happening here next week, isn’t there?

 

Your intonation also plays a role in question tags.

 

If we want to show that we are not sure about something, we use rising intonation, which means that your voice goes up from the auxiliary to the subject.

 

i) Your name is Mary, isn’t it?

 

The opposite is true for when you want someone to agree with you. Your intonation falls from the auxiliary to the subject.

 

j) It’s a waste of time, isn’t it?

 

Exercise 1.- Grammar

 

Add a tag to make these questions.

 

a) You name is John, _______________?

 

b) She lived in Germany for a year, _______________?

 

c) He is from Australia, _______________?

 

d) You haven’t been to Russia, _______________?

 

e) Your family is from the south of Spain, _______________?

 

f) You have worked here for 5 years, _______________?

 

g) Your father is French, _______________?

 

h) You don’t smoke, _______________?

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