English Question Tags


This unit introduces question tags. Question tags are question fragments added to the end of a sentence in order to check for confirmation.


A question tag is a short statement at the end of a sentence that turns a statement into a question. When use a question tag, we typically ask about something we already know to be true, or are fairly certain to be true. To form a question tag, we use the modal verb of the previous clause in combination with the pronoun used in the statement. If no modal verb was used in the previous sentence, but a regular verb, we typically use “do”, “does”, or “did”. Though not grammatically incorrect, it is more common to use contractions when forming question tags.

We use a negative question tag after a positive statement, and we use a positive 
question tag after a negative statement.

Examples Positive statements, negative question tags:
Sam plays (regular verb) soccer, doesn’t he? (do – contracted) does he not (uncontracted)
Julia has (modal verb) taught English for many years, hasn’t she? (have, contracted) has she not (uncontracted)
Sam and Julia have been married for several years, haven’t they? (have, contracted) have they not (uncontracted)
Ohio State is very big, isn’t it? (to be – contracted) is it not (uncontracted)

Examples Negative statements, positive question tags:
Sam hasn’t played soccer in years, has he?
Julia doesn’t like baking, does she?
They don’t serve wine, do they?
Sam and Julia didn’t get divorced, did they?

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:
Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
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I can use a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms my family and other people, living conditions, my educational background and my present or most recent job.
Spoken Interaction:
I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities. I can handle very short social exchanges, even though I can’t usually understand enough to keep the conversation going myself.
I can read very short, simple texts. I can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables and I can understand short simple personal letters.
I can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.