Question Tags | English Usage

Questions tags are the small questions that often come at the ends of sentences.

  • You are not coming with us, are you?
  • She can speak English, can’t she?

Questions tags are used to check whether something is true, or to ask for agreement. Note that we use a negative question tag after an affirmative sentence and a non-negative question tag after a negative sentence.

  • She is coming with us, isn’t she?
  • She isn’t coming with us, is she?

Note that we do not use question tags after questions.

  • You can speak English, can’t you? (BUT NOT Can you speak English, can’t you?)

Word structure

If the main sentence has an auxiliary verb, this is repeated in the question tag.

  • You are the new manager, aren’t you?
  • She didn’t come, did she?
  • It is cold, isn’t it?
  • He won’t come, will he?

If the main sentence has no auxiliary, the question tag has do.

  • You like music, don’t you?
  • She gave you a book, didn’t she?

Advanced points

The question tag for I am is aren’t I?

  • I am late, aren’t I?

After let us …, we use shall we?

  • Let’s go, shall we?

There can be a subject in question tags.

  • There is something wrong, isn’t there?

Negative words

Non-negative tags are used after sentences containing negative words like never, no, nobody, hardly, scarcely and little.

  • There is little we can do about it, is there? (NOT … isn’t there?)
  • It is no good, is it? (NOT … isn’t it?)

We use it in question tags to refer to nothing and everything.

  • Nothing can happen, can it?

In sentences with question tags, it is quite common to leave out pronoun subjects and auxiliary verbs.

  • (It is a) nice day, isn’t it?
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Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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