- English Grammar B2 Level - https://open.books4languages.com/english-b2-grammar -

Question Tags after Negative Adverbs

Introduction

A question tag is a short question at the end of a sentence that we use to check information, ask for confirmation (negative tag) or agreement (positive tag). {See Question Tags [1], A2 level}

Some adverbs have negative meanings (hardly, never, rarely, etc.). So we use positive question tags.

Form

We find positive question tags after the sentences that include negative words or consist of negative words. These negative words are usually adverbs (hardly, never, rarely, scarcely, seldom…).

The structure is:
Positive sentence with negative statements + comma (,) + positive question tag + ?

Example

  1. They are hardly aware of the increase in birth rate, are they?
  2. There has never been an exploitation in this company, has there?
  3. People are rarely worried about the bombings nowadays, are they?
  4. He scarcely finished university, did he?
  5. You seldom go to the beach, do you?

Use

We use positive question tags when we have these negative adverbs, because the sentence is positive, but the meaning of the statement is negative.

The adverbs that have negative meanings are:

  1. Hardly: with difficulty, almost not;
  2. Never: not under any condition, not at any time, not any reason;
  3. Rarely: not often;
  4. Scarcely: probably not;
  5. Seldom: in a few cases, almost never.

Summary

After negative adverbs we use positive question tags, because the sentence is positive, but the meaning of the statement is negative.

Those negative adverbs are: hardly (meaning with difficulty), never (meaning not at any time), rarely (meaning not often), scarcely (meaning probably not) and seldom (meaning almost never)

The strucure is: We start with the positive sentence but with negative statements, followed by a comma (,) and a positive question tag (the sentence ends with a question mark).

For example:
— “She scarcely remembers to feed the fish, does she?” = The negative adverb scarcely is followed by the postitve question tag does she?
— “He has never worried about anything, has he?”  = The negative adverb never is followed by the postitve question tag has he?
“He hasn’t worried about anything, has he?
= The negative sentence [1] with hasn’t worried is followed by the postitve question tag has he?

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