Question Tags

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We use tags in spoken English but not in formal written English.

They are not really questions but are a way of asking the other person to make a comment and so keep the conversation open.

Making a tag is very mechanical. To make a tag, use the first auxiliary. If there is no auxiliary, use do, does or did. With a positive sentence, make a negative tag and with a negative sentence, make a positive tag.

  • It’s beautiful, isn’t it?
  • He has been, hasn’t he?
  • You can, can’t you?
  • It must be, mustn’t it?
  • You know him, don’t you?
  • He finished it, didn’t he?
  • He will come, won’t he?
  • It isn’t very good, is it?
  • It hasn’t rained, has it?
  • It can’t be, can it?
  • Jenny doesn’t know James, does she?
  • They didn’t leave, did they?
  • He won’t do it, will he?

Notice these:

  • There isn’t an ATM here, is there?
  • Let’s have a cup of coffee, shall we?

To reply, use the same auxiliary:

  • It’s beautiful, isn’t it? ~ Yes, it is. I think it’s fabulous.
  • It isn’t very good, is it? ~ No, it isn’t. In fact, it’s terrible.

Although, the rules are very simple and mechanical, in order to use them easily in conversation, they have to be automatic. So you need to hear and practice them very often.