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Gerund  and Participle Clauses
Questions Tags

Question tags

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.


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?


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.

Tag Question Special Cases

Negative adverbs

Theadverbs neverrarelyseldomhardlybarely and scarcely have a negative sense. Even though they may be in a positive statement, the feeling of the statement is negative. We treat statements with these words like negative statements, so the question tag is normally positive. Look at these examples:

Positive statement
treated as negative statement
Positive tag
He never came again, did he?
She can rarely come these days, can she?
You hardly ever came late, did you?
barely know you, do I?
You would scarcely expect her to know that, would you?
Serial No Real form Contracted Form Examples in tag questions
1 shall shan’t I shall ask you to sit for exam on tag questions, shan’t I?
2 should shouldn’t We should not tell a lie, shouldn’t we?
3 will won’t They will not sleep at late night any more, won’t they?
4 would wouldn’t You would come yesterday, wouldn’t you?
5 can can’t Birds can fly, can’t they?
6 could couldn’t He couldn’t leave you, couldn’t he?
7 may mayn’t You may go now, mayn’t you?
8 might mightn’t Allah might do this, mightn’t Allah?
9 need needn’t She needn’t go there, need she?
10 dare daren’t How dare you do this, daren’t you?
11 must mustn’t We must pray to the almighty, mustn’t we?
12 used to usedn’t He used to walk out in the morning, usedn’t he?
13 ought to   hadn’t You oughtn’t do this wrong, oughtn’t you?
14 had better hadn’t I had to write more about this, hadn’t I?
15 would rather wouldn’t She would die than beg, wouldn’t she?
16 have to haven’t This modal verb is not used in tag question.
17 going to going to This modal verb is not used in tag question.


Sometimes we use question tags with imperatives (invitations, orders), but the sentence remains an imperative and does not require a direct answer. We use won't for invitations. We use can, can't, will, would for orders.

imperative + question tag notes
Take a seat, won't you? polite invitation
Help me, can you? quite friendly
Help me, can't you? quite friendly (some irritation?)
Close the door, would you? quite polite
Do it now, will you. less polite
Don't forget, will you. with negative imperatives only will is possible

Same-way tag questions

Although the basic structure of tag questions is positive-negative or negative-positive, it is sometimes possible to use a positive-positive or negative-negative structure. We use same-way tag questions to express interest, surprise, anger etc, and not to make real questions.

Look at these positive-positive tag questions:

  • So you're having a baby, are you? That's wonderful!
  • She wants to marry him, does she? Some chance!
  • So you think that's funny, do you? Think again.

Negative-negative tag questions usually sound rather hostile:

  • So you don't like my looks, don't you? (British English)

Asking for information or help

Notice that we often use tag questions to ask for information or help, starting with a negative statement. This is quite a friendly/polite way of making a request. For example, instead of saying "Where is the police station?" (not very polite), or "Do you know where the police station is?" (slightly more polite), we could say: "You wouldn't know where the police station is, would you?" Here are some more examples:

  • You don't know of any good jobs, do you?
  • You couldn't help me with my homework, could you?
  • You haven't got $10 to lend me, have you?

Some more special cases

Example Notes
am right, aren't I? aren't I (not amn't I)
You have to go, don't you? you (do) have to go...
have been answering,haven't I? use first auxiliary
Nothing came in the post,did it? treat statements with nothing, nobody etc like negative statements
Let's go, shall we? let's = let us
He'd better do it, hadn't he? he had better (no auxiliary)





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Fecha: 31/7/2018 | Creado por: Patricia
Categoria: TEENS 5