Question tags are mostly used in speech. These are short questions that we put at the end of sentences. To add such a question to a sentence is very easy. If a sentence is positive, we should add negative and if a sentence is negative, we should add a positive question tag.
We can use these sentences mainly when we have to-
- confirm that something is true or not
- to get a reply from a person whom we are speaking.
Formation of Question Tags
Question tags are formed with auxiliary verbs, without auxiliary verbs or with modal verbs from the sentence and appropriate subject. We shall learn about these tags one by one.
Have a look-
Positive / negative
When a statement is positive, add negative question tag as;
- Maurya is a brave boy, isn’t he?
- Students of the ninth standard can understand that lesson easily, can’t they?
- She works in a bank, doesn’t she?
- You are a lawyer, aren’t you?
Negative / positive
When the statement is negative, add positive question tag as;
- They aren’t teachers, are they?
- She shouldn’t go without his mother’s permission, should he?
- He isn’t meeting you, is he?
- You haven’t done it, have you?
Question tags with an auxiliary verb
In this sentence, we should use the same verb of the main part in a question tag. When we have the form of ‘be’ or ‘have’ in a statement, we should use that auxiliary verb to form question tag as;
- You were absent in class yesterday, weren’t you?
- He wasn’t playing in the ground, was he?
- These aren’t working, are these?
- They hadn’t watch such a scene before, had they?
- I am listening to music, ain’t I?
- She hasn’t completed her work yet, has she?
- He is singing, isn’t he?
Question tags without an auxiliary verb
In this formation, when the main part of a sentence doesn’t have an auxiliary verb, we should add proper form of ‘do’ to form a question tag. The form of ‘do’ is used according to the subject and tense of a sentence.
When a verb in the main part of the sentence is in the simple present tense, we should use do or does according to the subject of a sentence.
Have a look-
- She plays harmonium, doesn’t she?
- I eat an apple, don’t I?
- You like English movies, don’t you?
- He eats meat, doesn’t he?
When a verb in the main part of the sentence is in the simple past tense, we should use ‘did’. We can use ‘did’ for any subject in a sentence.
Have a look-
- He went to a remote area, didn’t he?
- You did a good job, didn’t you? (Here, did is used as the main verb.)
- She got your question, didn’t she?
- I studied in Delhi University, didn’t I?
- It drank that milk, didn’t it?
- We said that, didn’t we?
Question tags with modal verbs
If the modal verb is used in the main part of a sentence, we should use the same modal verb to form a question tag as;
- I couldn’t talk to you, could I?
- She won’t speak anybody, will she?
- We can see you, can’t we?
These are either real questions that you want to know the answer to your question or to confirm the answer to what you already know.
If we use this tag as a real question, our voice raises. And, if we already know the answer, our voice falls.
Go back from question tags to Grammar lessons.