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Tag Questions

1. What are tag questions?

Tag questions are a way of making questions.

They are made by using:
positive statement + negative statements.

*The positive statement can be placed at the start or at the end.

2. Why use tag questions?

A normal question implies you don’t know the answer.
A tag question suggests that you know the answer, but want to check.

3. How to make present tense tag questions

The theory for tag questions is:
1. positive statement + negative form of the verb + subject
2. negative sentence + positive form of the verb + subject

4. ‘Don’t you?’

For sentences that don’t use the verb ‘be’, the present tense tag questions use ‘don’t you?’ or ‘do you?’:
1. positive statement + don’t (you)?
2. negative statement + do (you)?

*Although ‘have’ statements should take ‘don’t you?’, in spoken English many people say ‘haven’t you?’

Positive statementDon’t (you)Full question
You like cheesedon’t youYou like cheese, don’t you?
He has a green cardoesn’t heHe has a green car, doesn’t he?
They play on Mondaysdon’t theyThey play on Mondays, don’t they?
Jonas fixes radiosdoesn’t heJonas fixes radios, doesn’t he?
New York has five boroughsdoesn’t itNew York has five boroughs, doesn’t it?
Negative statementdo (you)Full question
You don’t have a cardo youYou don’t have a car, do you?
We don’t need to godo weWe don’t need to go, do we?
The company doesn’t make clothesdoes itThe company doesn’t make clothes, does it?
The newsreader doesn’t speak welldoes sheThe newsreader doesn’t speak well, does she?
Bath doesn’t have an airport, does itdoes itBath doesn’t have an airport, does it?

5. ‘Isn’t it?’

If using a statement with the verb ‘be’, add the positive or negative form of ‘be’:
positive statement + ‘isn’t it/he/she’ or ‘aren’t you/we/they’?
negative statement + ‘is it/he/she’ or ‘are you/we/they?’

Positive statement with ‘be’‘negative be’ (you)Full question
He is your brotherisn’t heHe is your brother, isn’t he?
The lift is brokenisn’t itThe lift is broken, isn’t it?
They are so beautifularen’t theyThey are so beautiful, aren’t they?
Venezuela is in South Americaisn’t itVenezuela is in South America, isn’t it?
Their restaurant is open late tonightisn’t itTheir restaurant is open late tonight, isn’t it?
Negative statement with ‘be’‘be’ (you)?Full question
You aren’t a doctorare youYou aren’t a doctor, are you?
She isn’t happyis sheShe isn’t happy, is she?
We aren’t in troubleare weWe aren’t in trouble, are we?
Max isn’t in the houseis heMax isn’t in the house, is he?
The office isn’t locked todayis itThe office isn’t locked today, is it?

6. How to make past tense tag questions

For past tense tag questions, put the ‘tag’ part in the past tense.

+
There was a fight last night, wasn’t there?Dave wasn’t married to her, was he?
Paula was happy with the present, wasn’t she?The girls weren’t drunk this afternoon, were they?
Julio took the money, didn’t he?You didn’t take my keys, did you?
Kennedy drove a black taxi, didn’t he?We didn’t pay, did we?

7. How to make future tense tag questions

The future tense uses ‘will’.
To make tag questions, use ‘will’ or ‘won’t’.

+
I will be paid, won’t I?I won’t get paid, will I?
He will go on holiday tomorrow, won’t he?He won’t go on holiday tomorrow, will he?
They will buy her a present, won’t they?They won’t buy her a present, will they?

8. How to write perfect tense tag questions

Perfect tenses use ‘have + p.p.’.
To make a perfect tense tag question, use ‘have’ or ‘haven’t’.

+
You have been busy, haven’t you?You haven’t sold your car already, have you?
Mary has taken the bus, hasn’t she?Troy hasn’t eaten my ice cream, has he?
The cat has caught another mouse, hasn’t it?The mayor hasn’t raised taxes this year, has he?

9. Other tag questions

+
can1. I can go, can’t I?
2. She can jump high, can’t she?
3. They can take me, can’t they?
 1. I can’t go, can I?
2. She can’t jump high, can she?
3. They can’t take me, can they?
could1. I could kill you, couldn’t I?
2. You could tell me, couldn’t you?
3. They could go to jail, couldn’t they?
1. I couldn’t kill you, could I?
2. You couldn’t tell me, could you?
3. They couldn’t go to jail, could they?
would1. She would like to go, wouldn’t she?
2. If they had money, they would buy a car, wouldn’t they?
3. If she had a party, he would come, wouldn’t he?
1. She wouldn’t go, would she?
2. If they had money, they wouldn’t buy a car, would they?
3. If she had a party, he wouldn’t come, would he?

10. Exercises

Change these questions into tag questions:
(i) Do you like chicken?
(ii) Should I go to the party?
(iii) Do you have enough to drink?
(iv) Did you see the movie last night?

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