Unit 11.2

Question Tags formation


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Introduction

A question tag is a short question at the end of a sentence which is used to check information, ask for confirmation (negative tag) or agreement (positive tag).

Form

Question tags are formed by the same verb of the sentence (auxiliary verbs, the verb to be and modal verbs).

Their structures are:

  • Positive sentence + , + negative tag [auxiliary + not + subject]?
  • Negative sentence + , + positive tag [auxiliary + subject]?

Example

Positive sentence + negative tag:

  • You called the ambulance, didn’t you?
  • He is the prime minister, isn’t he?
  • We turned all the lights off, didn’t we?
  • They can go to the town hall, can’t they?

Negative sentence + positive tag:

  • You don’t like this political party, do you?
  • He is not going to the army, is he?
  • We are not going to the party, are we?
  • They couldn’t arrive yesterday, could they?

Use

We use question tags as questions where we just want to know the answer or to ask for agreement when we already know the answer:

  • positive sentences use negative tags when looking for confirmation;
  • negative sentences use positive tags when looking for agreement.

Summary

Question tags are short questions at the end of a sentence and we use them to check information, ask for confirmation (negative tag) or agreement (positive tag).

  • When we start with a positive sentence, we use a negative tag, which is formed by an auxiliary with not followed by a subject pronoun.
  • When we start with a negative sentence, we use a positive tag, which is formed by an auxiliary followed by a subject pronoun.

For example:
— “You love me, don’t you?” = The speaker asks for confirmation.
— “You don’t love me, do you?” = The speaker asks for agreement.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

Exercises

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