Question Tags in English | Grammar Rules & Examples

Learn how to form Question Tags and useful grammar rules in forming Question Tags with examples.

How to Form Question Tags in English

Tag Questions

What are Question Tags?

We use question tags at the end of statements to ask for confirmation. They mean something like: “Are you okay?” or “Do you think so?” They are very common in English.

Question Tags in English | Grammar Rules & Examples 2

Rules for Forming Question Tags

To form the two-word tag questions, you must follow the rules below:

  • The subject in the statement matches the subject in the tag.
  • The auxiliary verb or verb to be in the statement matches the verb used in the tag.
  • If the statement is positive, the tag is usually negative and vice versa.

Examples:

He’s read this book, hasn’t he?

He read this book, didn’t he?

He’s reading this book, isn’t he?

He reads a lot of books, doesn’t he?

He’ll read this book, won’t he?

He should read this book, shouldn’t he?

He can read this book, can’t he?

He’d read this book, wouldn’t he?

Question Tags in English | Grammar Rules & ExamplesQuestion Tags in English | Grammar Rules & Examples 3

Exceptions in Forming Question Tags

Statements with Negative Adverbs

The adverbs never, seldom, hardly, rarely have a negative sense. We treat statements with these words like negative statements, so the question tag is normally positive.

Example:

We have never seen that, have we?

Statements begin with I’m

We use the verb form are/aren’t I when the subject is the first person singular.

Example:

I’m intelligent, aren’t I?

Statements begin with Let’s

We use shall we after sentences with Let’s.

Example:

Let’s take the next bus, shall we?

Let’s go home, shall we?

With Imperatives

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

Example:

Open the window, will you? (order – less polite)

Take a seat, won’t you? (invitation – polite)

With There… structure

When we use the there… structure, there is reflected in the tag.

Example:

There‘s nothing wrong, is there?

There weren’t any problems when you talked to Jack, were there?

Statements with Nobody/No one, Somebody/Someone, Everybody/Everyone as the subject

We use the pronoun they in question tags after statements with nobody/no one, somebody/someone, everybody/everyone as the subject.

Example:

Somebody wanted to borrow Jack’s bike, didn’t they?

Statements with Nothing/Something/Everything as the subject

When the subject is nothing/something, we use it in the tag question.

Example:

Something happened at Jack’s house, didn’t it?

Statements with This

When the subject is this, we use it in the tag question.

Example:

This will work, won’t it?

Note:

We can use affirmative tag questions after affirmative sentences to express a reaction such as surprise or interest.

Example:

You’re moving to London, are you?

Question Tags in English | Grammar Rules & Examples

Question Tag Intonation

We use falling intonation on question tags when we are checking information and we expect the listener to agree.

Example:

It’s a lovely day, isn’t it? ↘

We use rising intonation to ask a real question, when we are unsure whether the statement is true or not, or when asking for information and making requests.

Example:

You couldn’t do me a favor, could you? ↗

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