Tag Questions

Tag Questions are short questions added to the end of a statement.

Look at these examples to see how tag questions are made.

  • The cat is beautiful, isn’t it?
  • We should leave the room, shouldn’t it?
  • Students must work hard, mustn’t they?
  • The sun doesn't move round the earth, does it?
  • I am not stupid, am I?
  • We should not pollute our environment, should we?

Rules of Forming Tag Questions
General Rules
  1. Put a comma at the end of the sentence and write the tag question after it. 
  2. If the sentence has a be verb, modal varb, and other auxiliary verb, write it just after the comma.
  3. If the statement is affirmative, tag question will be negative. If the statement is negative, tag question will be affirmative. So, add n't with the auxiliary verb if the main sentence is affirmative. If the sentence is negative, don't add n't
  4. The subject of the tag question is always a personal pronoun (I, we, you, he, she, it, or they). Don't use any other pronoun.


Affirmative
Tag Question
You are late,
aren’t you?
She was there,
wasn’t she?
I cannot help,
can I?
We have not met before,
have we?

    Special Rules

    Tag Questions in the Present Simple & Past Simple

    Many sentences in the present simple and past simple do not have be verb, auxiliary verb, or modal verb. For sentences without auxiliary verbs, we do the following things.

    Rule-1: Present Simple

    If the verb is in the present simple, we use the auxiliary verb do/ does in the question.

    Affirmative
    Tag Question
    You work at home,
    don’t  you?
    It costs 10 taka,
    doesn’t it?
    It rains in July,
    doesn’t it?
    Father works abroad,
    doesn’t he?
    We live in village,
    don’t we?

     

    Rule-2: Past Simple

    If the verb is in the past simple, we use the auxiliary verb did in the tag question.

    Affirmative
    Tag Question
    She went to the cinema,
    didn’t she?
    They worked hard all day,
    didn’t they?
    Aduri visited Dhaka,
    didn’t she?
    You helped him,
    didn’t you?
    We started our journey,didn’t you?


    Rule-3: Shall, Will, Can & Am

    There are 24 auxiliary verbs in English. We can add n't with 20 auxiliary verbs without making any change. But the following 4 auxiliary verbs are changed when we add n't with them. So, remember the following 4 auxiliary verbs.

    Shall + not = shan’t

    Will + not = won’t

    Can + not = can’t

    Am + not = aren't

    Examples


    Affirmative
    Tag Question
    I shall help you,
    shan't I?
    You will come,
    won't you?
    Birds can fly,
    can't they?
    I am here,
    aren't I?

    Rule—4: Indefinite Pronoun as Subject

    If the subject is an indefinite pronoun, [everybody,   everyone,   anybody,   anyone,   somebody,   someone, nobody, no one, none, neither, either], the subject of the tag question will be “they”. This is because we cannot say whether the subject is a man or a woman. So, we cannot use he or she though the subject is singular. 

    StatementTag Question
    Each of them got ten taka,
    didn’t they?
    Nobody believes a liar,
    do they?
    Everybody is present in the meeting,
    aren't they?
    One should do one's duty,
    shouldn't they?
    None has come yet,
    have they?


    Be Careful!

    Pronoun They always follow a plural verb. So, never use a singular verb with the pronoun they.

    Everyone knows it, don’t they? [not, doesn’t they?] 
    Everybody has a sense of self-dignity, haven’t they? [not, hasn’t they?]


    Rule—5: Am + Not = Aren’t

    The tag question of “I am” is “aren’t I?”

    I am your friend, aren’t I?
    I am helping him, aren’t I?

    But,  

    I am not stupid, am I?
    I am not disturbing you, am I?


    Rule—6: scarcelyhardlyrarelyseldom, and few are negative words. So, we add affirmative tag questions after sentences having those negative words.

    It scarcely rains in winter, does it?
    A barking dog seldom bites, does it?
    They hardly phoned, did they?

    Note: scarcely/hardly/rarely/seldom/few means ‘almost not’

    Rule—7: If Need and dare are Modal Verbs, tag question is ‘need / dare + Subject’.

    He need not meet, need he?
    I dare not drive at night, dare I?


    Rule—8: If Need and dare are Principal Verbs, tag question is ‘don’t/ doesn’t + Subject’.

    You need to think about it, don’t you?
    We need English to get higher education, don’t we?
    She needs to go out, doesn’t she?

    Rule—9: If the subject is nothing oreverything, the subject of tag will be it. 

    Everything was alright, wasn’t it?
    Nothing can satisfy him, can it?
    Nothing is certain, is it?


    Rule—10: If the sentence has the dummy subject There, this there will be the subject of the tag question.

    There is no king in China, is there?
    There are many mistakes in it, aren’t there?


    Rule—11: Common nouns functioning as Abstract nouns.

    If the subject of the statement is a common noun which functions as an abstract noun, the subject of the tag will be it.

    The mother rose in her, didn’t it?
    The girl in her pleases us all, doesn’t it?


    Rule—12: The Adjective as subject. 

    Phrases like the + adjective function as plural common noun. So, after sentences containing such phrases, the subject of the tag becomes they. Here are some such phrases for you. The rich , the poor, the neglected, the haves, the brave, the pious, the helpless, the idle, the industrious, the illiterate.  


    The brave deserve the fair, don’t they?
    The   educated   should   be   free   from superstition, shouldn’t they?

    Rule—13: Imperative Sentence

    The tag questions after Imperative Sentences are will you? won't you? would you? can you? can't you? and could you? After negative imperatives, we use will you? 

    Imperative SentenceTag Question
    Say something,
    will you?
    Never tell a lie,
    will you?
    Don't bother him,
    will you?
    Have your breakfast,
    will you?


    If the imperative sentence begins with ‘Let us’, the tag question is ‘shall we?’ But if it begins with Let + other object, the tag will be will you or can you

    Imperative SentenceTag Question
    Let's visit the zoo,
    shall we?
    Let us have some fun,
    shall we?
    Let him do it,
    will you?
    Let Della sell her hair,
    will you?


    Rule—14: Exclamatory Sentence

    The tag questions after Exclamatory Sentences are almost same as the tag questions after statements.