While learning anything, never be afraid of committing mistakes. Commit as many mistakes as you like since every unsuccessful attempt teaches you a new lesson and eventually leads you to a great triumph.#AKWords Learning Question Tags in English Grammar

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Learning Question Tags in English Grammar

A question tag is a short question added to a statement. It is a structure consisting of an auxiliary verb followed by a pronoun, which is used at the end of a statement in order to form a question. It is an extra element attached to the statement as a tail, and that does not disturb the sentence even if it drops. The speaker uses it to seek confirmation that something is true by making a statement in a declarative sentence, then adding an expression like isn’t it?, can’t we or was he? It is of two main types: opposite polarity and the same polarity. It often comes at the end of sentences in speech and sometimes in informal writing as well to bring a kind of conversational flavour to the language.

The user should normally have all 24 auxiliary verbs at the tip of the tongue to add a question tag to the statement. It is formed using an auxiliary or a form of be or do followed by a personal pronoun referring to the subject. It means the question tag needs an auxiliary verb and a personal pronoun. Moreover, a question tag is negative when a statement is affirmative, and if a statement is negative, a question tag comes positive.


Question tag

Positive (+ ve)

Negative (- ve)

Alina cooks mutton.

…, doesn’t she?

Negative (- ve)

Positive (+ ve)

Your dress is not attractive.

…, is it?

Note that a comma, an auxiliary verb, a personal pronoun and a question mark are needed to form a question tag. The same auxiliary verb in the statement is retained even in the question tag. And this structure –positive-negative and negative-positive – is applicable only when a sentence is declarative.


When a tag is added to the statement, the voice can go up (rising tone) or down (falling tone). It means the exact meaning of a question tag is clear by the intonation. If the tag is a real question, i.e. if we really want to know something because we are not/less sure of the answer, we use a rising tone.

For examples:
  • The President is to go to New Delhi, isn't he?
This means the speaker is not sure. He does not know whether the listener has this information about the President's visit to New Delhi or not. So, the tag is more like a real question with a rising tone.

When the tag is not a real question, i.e. we are sure of the answer, the tag comes with a falling tone.
  • It's a lovely day, isn't it?
Here, the speaker thinks that the statement is true. He knows that it's a lovely day, and he is signalling the listener to continue the conversation. The tag is not really a question.

If the statement has the simple present or simple past form of be as the main verb, use that verb in the question tag.

For examples:
  • Anita is an air-hostess, isn't she?
  • They are ready to dance, aren't they?
  • That baby was so cute, wasn't she?
  • Yesterday was so much fun, wasn't it?

If the statement does not have an auxiliary verb or has have as a main verb, use either do, does, or did in the tag according to the tense of it, also notice the number of the pronoun that comes in the subject position of the question tag.

For examples:
  • After a couple of years, the heat gets too much, doesn't it?
  • They often speak slowly in the dressing room, don't they?
  • Melina composed five poems yesterday, didn't she?

Notice that the auxiliary verb is always contracted in the negative question tag because the subject of the question tag is always a pronoun. Therefore, if someone uses the negative question tag such as is not it? does not she? have not they, then that is wrong.

The language user should be alert with I am in the statement because its negative question tag is aren’t I, even though am is an auxiliary verb or main verb in the main clause. However, when the statement is negative, am I comes in the tag.

For example:
  • I am your well-wisher, aren't I(but not I am your well-wisher, amn't I?)
  • I'm never on time, am I? (but not I’m never on time, are I?)

If you have an opinion or belief about something and you want to check that it is true or find out if someone agrees with you, you can make a statement and add a question tag after it to make it into a question. If you are making an affirmative statement and you want to check that it is true, use a negative question tag and vice versa.

For examples:
  • It’s a lovely day, isn’t it?
  • He is so kind, isn’t he?
  • They don’t like biscuits, do they?
  • You won’t tell anyone else all this, will you?
  • You'll just have to try harder, won't you?
  • That plant might do better by the window, mightn’t it?

The question tags come positive if the statements have negative adverbs or negative pronouns.

(Negative adverbs: not, never, seldom, rarely, barely, scarcely, hardly, hardly ever, little, no longer, in no way, etc.)

For examples:
  • We hardly talk to each other, do we?
  • She rarely gets involved in any dispute, does she?
  • Nothing had changed my attitude, had it?
  • Nobody likes chicken in dinner, do they?
  • I slept very little last nightdid I?
  • We in no way agree with her, do we?
  • She no longer has her dinner outside, does she?
  • His mother barely knows you, does she?

Have a look at this table:


Question tag


aren’t (not am I not or amn’t I)









will / shall / can

won’t / shan’t / can’t

present verb singular (plays)


present verb plural (play)


past verb (played)


have / has / had (as a main verb)

don’t / doesn’t / didn’t

have / has / had (as an auxiliary)

haven’t / hasn’t / hadn’t

have / has / had + NP + pp

don’t / doesn’t / didn’t

have / has / had + NP (possession)

haven’t / hasn’t / hadn’t

have / has / had + NP (possession)

don’t / doesn’t / didn’t (preferred in AmE)

had + NP (possession)

didn’t (hadn’t usually not preferred)

’s +  past participle (pp)


’s + NP (possession)

hasn’t / doesn’t

’s + pp (if the statement is passive)


’s + adj. or NP (if ’s shows a state of the subject)


’re + adj. or NP


’ve + pp


’d + infinitive


’ll + infinitive

won’t / shan’t (as per the person of the subject)

’d + pp


’d + better


’d + rather/sooner


’d + have + pp


used to

didn’t / usedn’t (didn’t is much preferred)

ought to

oughtn’t / shouldn’t



must (in the sense of necessity)


Please/Kindly, …

will you

Imperative sentence (if positive)

will you / won’t you

Imperative sentence (if negative)

will you

*Let’s … / Let us …

shall we

Let + objective case except for us

will you

a few / a little

Negative tag

few / little (without an article)

Positive tag

Note that may is contracted with not; hence, mayn’t is not used. It’s wrong.

*Let us is the full form of Let’s; thus, both take the same question tag shall we when Let’s or Let us is used in the sense of the proposal or suggestion, but if the sense of permission is reflected from that, then the question tag is will you.

For examples:

  • Let us talk to our boss, shall we? (proposal)
  • Let’s play now, shall we? (Proposal)
  • Captain: Team, we’re getting late. Let us go into the ground, shall we? (proposal)
  • Let’s talk about that later, shall we? (suggestion)
  • Let’s stop for lunch, shall we? (suggestion)
  • Let’s me/her face him, will you? (permission)

When the statement begins with indefinite pronouns such as everybody, everyone, somebody, someone, anybody, anyone, nobody and no one as its subject, then the pronoun he or they is used but the most preferred pronoun is they in the question tag.

For examples:
  • Anyone can answer my question, can’t he/they?
  • Nobody likes people smoking in public, does he or do they?

Although indefinite pronouns are treated as singular, personal pronouns for them are usually they but sometimes he is also used. When they is used, an auxiliary verb agrees with the subject in the tag but not according to the subject of the statement.

Some indefinite pronouns – something, everything, anything, nothing – this/that and these/those are replaced by it and they respectively in the question tags.

For examples:
  • Something will change later, won’t it?
  • Anything can happen if you don’t listen to me, can’t it?
  • This was not wrong, was it?
  • Nothing is clear, is it?
  • These are yours, aren’t they?

All as the subject in a declarative sentence can have two meanings: all can refer to everybody or everything. When all means everybody, it takes a plural verb and that brings they in the question tag. Similarly, in the sense of everything, a singular verb is used and all changes into a personal pronoun it.

For examples:
  • All is lost, isn’t it?
  • All have gone home, haven’t they?

Use we in the question tag when there is all of us/some of us/none of us/most of us/everyone of us/either of us/neither of us in the subject position of the statement. It means the pronoun that comes after of … is retained in the subjective case as a subject of the question tag. Similarly, if there is …of you or …of them, use you or they respectively.

For examples:
  • Most of us have visited Kathmandu, haven’t we?
  • None of you knows French, do you?
  • Some of them might agree with us on this matter, mightn’t they?
  • Either of you has already operated this device, have you?
  • Neither of us knows anything about this, don’t we?

Sometimes, an introductory there comes to begin the statement. This introductory subject does not have any meaning and this same there is repeated in the question tag. The same is the case with one.

For examples:
  • There’s no gas station nearby, is there? (not is it?)
  • There are children playing in the park, aren’t there? (not aren’t it?)
  • One should not laugh at the poor, should one?

It is a bit different when the speaker is making a statement about himself and he wants to check if the person he is talking to thinks or has the same opinion or feelings, he can put a tag with you after his statement.

For examples:
  • I think she’s innocent, don’t you?
  • I believe they’ll kneel down before her, don’t you?
  • I don’t like people going to a casino, do you?
  • I wholeheartedly endorse his remarks, do you?

Note the use of question tags in sentences beginning with I (don’t) think and similar expressions.

For examples:
  • I think he’s late, isn’t he?
  • I don’t think everything will be fine, won’t it?
  • I suppose you’re are innocent, aren’t you?

It is also important to notice that if there is you (don’t) think, the same you comes in the question tag.

For example:
  • You think I’m late, don’t you?

Although an affirmative statement takes a negative tag and vice versa, an affirmative statement also takes a non-negative tag when the speaker is to show his reaction to something that someone has just said or implied, for instance, to show interest, surprise, concern, anger or some other reaction. This is the same polarity question tag. This type of sentence often begins with so.

For examples:
  • You lost your wallet, did you?
  • So, you are from New Delhi, are you?
  • So, you’ve just finished reading this novel, have you?
  • Oh, so you’ve been here all the time, have you?
  • So, you’re leaving us, are you?
  • She’s a girlfriend of yours, is she?
  • You think you’re funny, do you?
  • So, she thinks she’s going to marry him, does she?

Although will you is used after positive commands or imperative sentences, won’t you and can’t you are also used to make them less forceful. To make them more polite, question tags of such commands can be made with cancouldwould as well. Note if imperative sentences are negative, the question tag is always positive (will you) only.

For examples:
  • Make a cup of coffee, could you?
  • Hold it, would you?
  • Open a window, would you?
  • Get a paper when you go to market, will you?
  • Open your book now, won’t you?
  • Don’t go there, will you? (not won’t you)
  • Do come to my birthday party, will you?
  • Please/Kindly, help me, will you?

If the imperative sentence denotes the sense of reprimand, can’t you is used in the question tag.

For examples:
  • Use your mind, can’t you?
  • Get lost, can’t you?
  • I’ll throw out of the gate. Shut up, can’t you?

The same polarity tag can be used if the main sentence is used just as a guess. Here, the question tag is used to ask if the statement was correct.

For examples:
  • Your sister’s a school teacher, is she?
  • You date her, do you?
  • This is the last flight to New York, is it?

I’ll …, shall I? can be used to make offers.

For examples:
  • I’ll get you a cup of coffee, shall I?
  • I’ll hold it for you, shall I?

Question tags may also be used with exclamations.

For examples:
  • What a rubbish guy he is, isn’t he?
  • How well she played, didn’t she?
  • Nonsense, isn’t it?
  • Lovely day, isn’t it?


However, it does not mean that a tag, but not a question tag, cannot be added at the end.

For examples:
  • They often make a noise in the classroom, boys.
  • I don’t care, to be honest.
  • She will call you back, I hope.

In the above sentences, they are tags but not question tags. It is done when we space out information by putting some of it in a complete sentence and then supplying more details at the end.

Some More Examples of Question Tag

He daren’t come here, dare he?

He need not hurry, need he?

These people need some time to be ready, don’t they?

Melina and Mary have been selected for the tournament, haven’t they?

Let him decide on his own, will you?

She’s a dozen of pencils in her bag, hasn’t she?

Some strange women over there are waiting for a long time, aren’t they?

She dared to slap him, didn’t she?

Everybody will be on your side, won’t they?

Nobody has seen God, have they?

Most of them were present the moment it happened, weren’t they?

OK, guys! Let us dance together, shall we?

Don’t sit here, will you?

Prepare for the upcoming exam, will you?

He little knows about it, does he?

You ought to obey your elder ones, oughtn’t you? (or shouldn’t you)

We laughed a lot at his jokes, didn’t we?

All is well, isn’t it?

He’s a chemist, isn’t he?

She seldom smokes cigarettes, does she?

There aren’t many people here yet, are there?

Let me see, the bus goes at ten past, doesn’t it?

You’d better consult a physician immediately, hadn’t you?

John had few friends, didn’t he?

That’s eaten by her, isn’t it?

She’d have scored at least 50 runs, wouldn’t she?

Yes, we’d our supper then, didn’t we?

Either of you is to give me back-up, aren’t you?

One cannot do this sum, can one?

This girl doesn’t seem to be eligible for this post, does she?

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