Paul ONeill
Professional Teacher
Do you know how to use Question Tags in English? I have been thinking about how to ask questions in English recently, and I am interested to know if anybody out there learning English is currently using Question Tags? Do you know what a Question Tag is? If so, do you know how to use them? How do you form a question using tags? This is a very colloquial way of asking a question in English and is a high level skill (in my opinion). So, let me know what you think!
Nov 24, 2017 10:04 AM
Answers · 6
Question tags are the short questions that we put on the end of sentences – particularly in spoken English. There are lots of different question tags but the rules are not difficult to learn. Positive/negative If the main part of the sentence is positive, the question tag is negative …. He’s a doctor, isn’t he? You work in a bank, don’t you? ... and if the main part of the sentence is negative, the question tag is positive. You haven’t met him, have you? She isn’t coming, is she? With auxiliary verbs The question tag uses the same verb as the main part of the sentence. If this is an auxiliary verb (‘have’, ‘be’) then the question tag is made with the auxiliary verb. They’ve gone away for a few days, haven’t they? They weren’t here, were they? He had met him before, hadn’t he? This isn’t working, is it? Without auxiliary verbs If the main part of the sentence doesn’t have an auxiliary verb, the question tag uses an appropriate form of ‘do’. I said that, didn’t I? You don’t recognise me, do you? She eats meat, doesn’t she? With modal verbs If there is a modal verb in the main part of the sentence the question tag uses the same modal verb. They couldn’t hear me, could they? You won’t tell anyone, will you? With ‘I am’ Be careful with question tags with sentences that start ‘I am’. The question tag for ‘I am’ is ‘aren’t I?’ I’m the fastest, aren’t I? Intonation Question tags can either be ‘real’ questions where you want to know the answer or simply asking for agreement when we already know the answer. If the question tag is a real question we use rising intonation. Our tone of voice rises. If we already know the answer we use falling intonation. Our tone of voice falls.
November 24, 2017
Hi Berengaria and Inma, I agree with both of you in a way, I speak Italian as a second language and I probably ask most questions in Italian with a statement followed by 'é vero or non?' I have never thought about whether question tags exist in Italian! I will have to investigate it... Inm, you are Spanish, so I wonder do you have Question tags in Spanish?
November 25, 2017
I rarely use question tags when I talk in english. It's quite difficult for non english speakers to use them, because we always need to think first, if we need to use verb to be or another. Nevertheless, both in spanish and italian , for us it doesn't sound silly or weird use frequntly "¿no?" or "veró?"
November 24, 2017
You know what I find interesting, Paul? As an English speaker, you are very used to adding in question tags all the time. But when you go to learn another language that doesn't really use them, you immediately start scratching around for a substitute. For example in Italian...it sounds silly to constantly be saying... no? non è vero? or vero?...all the time. But...how do you 'support' your statement otherwise? That's a problem rarely addressed for us English-speakers....non è vero? ;-)
November 24, 2017
When I am struggling to find an answer on my question..I ask my friends..but they not always know how to explain some things. Becasue they are not teachers, but native speakers. Then I ask question here. And I really enjoy doing it. Also it's a good practice.
November 24, 2017
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Paul ONeill
Language Skills
English, Italian
Learning Language
Italian