Question Tags | English Grammar in Use

Question Tags – English Grammar in Use, Unit 52

Question Tags – English Grammar in Use, Unit 52


Part A:

Study these examples:
You haven’t seen Lisa today, have you? — No, I haven’t.

It was a good film, wasn’t it?
These are question tags (= mini-questions that we often put on the end of
a sentence in spoken English). In question tags, we use an auxiliary verb (have/was/will etc.).
We use do/does/did for the present and past simple (see Unit 51):
Karen plays the piano, doesn’t she?’ ‘Well, yes, but not very well.’
‘You didn’t lock the door, did you?’ ‘No, I forgot.’


Part B:

Normally we use a negative question tag after a positive sentence:
… and a positive question tag after a negative sentence:
positive sentence+
Kate will be here soon, won’t she?
There was a lot of traffic, wasn’t there?
Joe should pass the exam, shouldn’t he?
Kate won’t be late, will she?
They don’t like us, do they?
You haven’t eaten yet, have you?


Part C:

Notice the meaning of yes and no in answer to a negative sentence:
The meaning of a question tag depends on how you say it. If your voice goes down, you are not really asking a question; you are only inviting the listener to agree with you:
‘It’s a nice day, isn’t it?’ ‘Yes, beautiful.’
‘Paul doesn’t look well today, does he?’ ‘No, he looks very tired. ‘
‘Lisa’s very funny. She’s got a great sense of humor, hasn’t she?’ ‘Yes, she has.’
But if the voice goes up, it is a real question:
‘You haven’t seen Lisa today, have you?’ ‘No, I haven’t.’ (= Have you by chance seen Lisa today?)
You can use a negative sentence + positive tag to ask for things or information, or to ask
somebody to do something. The voice goes up at the end of the tag in sentences like these:
‘You haven’t got a pen, have you?’ ‘Yes, here you are.’
‘You couldn’t do me a favour, could you?’ ‘It depends what it is.’
‘You don’t know where Karen is, do you?’ ‘Sorry, I have no idea. ‘


Part D:

After Let’s … , the question tag is shall we:
Let’s go for a walk, shall we? (the voice goes up)
After Don’t … , the question tag is will you:
Don’t be late, will You? (the voice goes down)
After I’m … , the negative question tag is aren’t I (=am I not):
I’m right, aren’t I?’ ‘Yes, you are.’

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