Question tags rules (PDF)

Question tags rules in English




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Question tags (are you?, isn’t it?, don’t you?, etc…) are very common in English. A positive response is expected:

  • It is beautiful, isn’t it? 

When the sentence is affirmative, the question tag is negative: auxiliary + not + subject pronoun

This tag allows you to ask for confirmation:

  • She can speak english, can’t she? 
  • He has written a book, hasn’t he? 

In the present and in the past, there is no auxiliary in the affirmative statement, so we use the auxiliary of these two tenses: do and did.

  • He looks young, doesn’t he? 
  • Paul sent you a message, didn’t he? 

When the sentence is negative, the question tag is positive. We expect a negative response:

  • “You haven’t finished your homework, have you?” “Not yet!” 
  • He doesn’t like bananas, does she? 
  • They haven’t arrived yet, have they? 

With the verb be in the first person singular (I), the negative tag is formed with are and not am:

  • I am tanned, arent’t I? 

For imperative sentences, we use a positive tag with will:

  • Open the door, will you?  
  • Don’t come in, will you?  

⚠️ Question tags are very often used to ask for confirmation: their intonation is then descending, as in an affirmative sentence.

⚠️ You can have a question tag in an affirmative sentence to express a reaction (surprise, irony, solicitude). The intonation is then rising:

  • You think you’re smart, do you? 



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