Question Tags in English

Basically, there are three ways to ask a question in English: with auxiliary verbs, intonation and question tags. Obviously, the first is the form that students usually study, and the second one – intonation – can be tricky for foreigners. That leaves question tags, doesn’t it?


Those dogs should be on a leash, shouldn’t they?

  theory-icon-red-i360-by-diverbo   THEORY 

Question tags is one of those lessons that is easier in theory than it is in practice. To form a question tag when the original sentence is in affirmative, the structure is: Verb ‘to be’ or auxiliary verb in negative + the subject of the sentence.

  • You can come to the rehearsal, can’t you?
  • She is in the canteen, isn’t she?
  • Be careful with ‘do’, ‘does’ and ‘did’, as they don’t appear in the affirmative sentence.
  • She likes Japanese movies, doesn’t she?

If the original sentence is negative, the structure is: Verb ‘to be’ or auxiliary verb in affirmative + the subject of the sentence

  • Pete didn’t bring the cooler, did he?
  • They haven’t been to Turkey, have they?

There is only one exception to this rule, which is with ‘I am’:

  • I am on duty next week, aren’t I? (NOT ‘amn’t I’)

Keep in mind that a question tag can have a slightly different meaning according to your tone. Compare:

  • You come by light rail, don’t you? (a flat tone means that you want the other person to confirm what you suspect.)
  • You come by light rail, don’t you? (a rising tone at the end means that it’s a genuine question)


  i360-by-diverbo-useful-vocabulary VOCABULARY

Leash – correa

Rehearsal – ensayo

Canteen – comedor

Movie – película (US)

Cooler – neverita

On duty – de guardia

To keep in mind – Acordarse de, recordar


20/09/2016Level - difficulty 2United StatesAudioExercise12 min