What are question tags exactly? Question tags are small tags inserted at the ends of affirmative statements. The statements can either be negative or affirmative but the question tags always follow the procedure; negative after affirmative and vice versa, so if the statement is negative, the question tag must be positive and if the statement is positive then the question tag must be negative.
Why are question tags used?
We use question tags to make statements interrogative, just like a normal question, only the difference is with these, is that the answer is usually assumed or known, or we find it easier to just add a tag to the end to make a statement interrogative rather than form a question. Question tags, although fairly simple, do abide by a certain rule of code, with a few exceptions, so here we’re going to elaborate and discuss questions tags in full detail.
Question tags with auxiliary verbs
- She is a lovely person, isn’t she?
- (*exception with the verb ‘to be’. In first person singular, the question tag with the negative form is ‘aren’t/are not’. For example, I’m a nice lady, aren’t I? CORRECT, I’m a nice lady, am I not? INCORRECT).
- You have sent the email, haven’t you?
- She doesn’t want to do it, does she?
- Mary can’t have what she wants, can she?
- You could go, couldn’t you?
- I may have a ride, may I not?
- You might want to do a bit more research. mightn’t you?
- I won’t be made to go, will I?
- My friends shall be allowed to come, shan’t they?
- You mustn’t cross the intersection at a red light, must you Jim?
- We wouldn’t ever dare say a bad thing about you, would we?
- You ought to get your car serviced, oughtn’t you?
- The computers need to get restored, need they not?
- You dared me, dared I not?
- I shouldn’t be noisy in class, should I?
All auxiliary verbs, both main and modal auxiliaries, when used, repeat themselves in the question tag. Auxiliaries being: be, have, do, can, could, may, might, will, shall, must, would, ought to, need to, dare to and should.
Question tags using ordinary verbs
- She called the plumber, didn’t she?
- Anabel likes to drink red wine, doesn’t she?
- We don’t like to party that much, do we?
- I listened to some music, did I not?
- Henry worked for nine hours today, didn’t he?
- We walked all the way to the centre, didn’t we?
- They really don’t enjoy the cinema, do they?
- My friend doesn’t come often, does he?
- Michael works hard, doesn’t he?
Verbs that aren’t auxiliary verbs we use the verb ‘do’ for all question tags.
Exceptions to the rules, exceptions that need to be learnt by heart.
- Be; first person singular: ‘am‘. I am going to the mall, aren’t I?
- (Let’s) affirmative imperative, we use the verb ‘shall‘ and not ‘do’. ‘Let’s go to and have a look, shall we?
- ‘This is‘ and ‘that is‘ we use the tag ‘isn’t it‘ or ‘is it‘. This is my phone, isn’t it? That isn’t yours, is it?
Modal auxiliary verbs:
- Articles (a/an, the, zero article)
- Pronouns: subject, object and possessive
- English conditionals
- Interrogatives in English
- Phrasal verbs
- Prefixes and suffixes
- Reported and direct speech
- Punctuation: apostrophes, colons, semi-colons, commas, dashes, full stops, question marks, exclamation marks, and quotation marks
- Numbers: cardinal, ordinal, and Roman numbers
- The verb: “get”
- ‘Get’ vs. ‘go’ and ‘got’ vs. ‘gotten’
- Copular verbs
- Cleft sentences
- Subjunctive in English
- Vulgar and taboo in English
- Split infinitive
- Emphasis with inversion
- Gerunds in English
- To + infinitive
- Bare infinitive
- British and American spelling