Tag Questions

Definition: “Tag” means a small piece of cloth, paper etc. attached to something to show its actual cost, owner etc. Like this, we make conversation to exchange our feelings, views, attitudes, thoughts, in short, exchange information in our everyday life. When we make conversation, we use very often short question to be sure whether information is right or wrong.

Example:-

He ate the apple, did he?

Hasem goes to school, doesn’t he?

Formation of tag question

1. We use pronoun form of the subject in the tag question.

2. Use short form of the operators in negative tag question.

3. Use single operator before subject (Pronoun).

4. Use comma between main sentence and tag question.

5. Use do, does, did if operator is absent.

6. Use question mark at the end of the tag.

Operator and their shorts forms

Affirmative Negative
Am Am not/aren’t
Is Isn’t
Are Aren’t
Was Wasn’t
Were Weren’t
Have Haven’t
Has Hasn’t
Had Hadn’t
Shall Shan’t
Should Shouldn’t
Will Won’t
Would Wouldn’t
Can Can’t
Could Couldn’t
May Mayn’t
Might Mightn’t
Must Mustn’t
Ought Oughtn’t
Need Needn’t
Dare Daren’t
Do Don’t
Does Doesn’t
Did Didn’t
Used to Usedn’t to

Note: In American English, don’t, doesn’t and didn’t are used instead of haven’t, hasn’t and hadn’t.

Rules of the tag questions

Rule-1: We use negative tag question for affirmative sentence.

Nipa gave me a nice gift, didn’t she?

Tania sings a song, doesn’t she?

They play football, don’t they?

I have a nice toy haven’t I /don’t I?

Rule-2: We use affirmative tag question for negative sentence.

They don’t do this work, do they?

Mamun didn’t talk to me, did he?

Bangladesh isn’t a rich country, is she?

Rule-3: For present Simple tense, we use “do/does” in affirmative tag and “don’t/doesn’t” in negative tag question.

He throws a ball to me, doesn’t he?

They help the poor people, don’t they?

My mother cooks fried-chicken, doesn’t she?

Rule-4: For past simple tense, we use “did” in affirmative and “didn’t” in negative tag question.

Anas didn’t go to school yesterday, did he?

I saw a flying bird, didn’t I?

Kate William gave away food among the poor people, didn’t she?

Mr. Shahid Ullah sacrificed his life for the sake of country, didn’t he?

Rule-5: When “to be verb” acts as a principal verb we use the same “to be verb” in the question tag.

The road was wet and muddy, wasn’t it?

The boys and girls were excited watching the T20 match, weren’t they?

Samira and Adiba were capable of getting this job, weren’t they?

I am very happy to see you, ain’t /aren’t I?

You are a good football player, aren’t you?

Rule-6: When “To have verb” acts as a principal verb in the statement we use the same “To have verb” in the tag question.

I have a nice pen and many colorful drawing papers, haven’t I?

He has two brothers and one sister, hasn’t he?

Nipa had a good friend, hadn’t she?

Rule-7: When statement takes modal auxiliary verbs, we use same modal auxiliary verbs in the question tag.

I could play good tennis, couldn’t I?

They should obey their teachers, shouldn’t they?

Tania can draw picture, can’t she?

Mamun couldn’t la chess, could he?

Rule-8: When statement takes “Need” as a principal verb we use “don’t/doesn’t” in the tag question, but when, statement has “needn’t” we use “Need” in the tag question.

They needn’t any help from us, need they?

She needs a pen to write a letter, doesn’t she?

The need a good playground for football match, don’t they ?

Rule-9: When imperative statement denotes “Request” we use “can you or could you”.

Remember that we use “Could you” for more polite request.

Give me some money to buy a set of books, could you?

Wait here until I come back, can you?

James, please, do this in favor of me, could you?

Rule-10: When imperative statement denotes “Advice or order” we use “will you/won’t you”. Remember that whether tag is affirmative or negative doesn’t make sense in the imperative statement.

Don’t make a noise in the classroom, will you?

Open the door, will you/won’t you?

Obey your parents, will you/won’t you?

Rule-11: When “Let’s (let us)” denotes “proposal/suggestion” in the imperative

statement, we use “Shall we” for all persons not paying attention to the number or person.

Let’s go to a study tour, shall we?

Let’s have a nice journey by train, shall we?

Let’s make a plan for our next examination, shall we?

Rule-12: When imperative statement has “Let + objective case (me, him, her, them)” and denotes “Permission” we use "will you"

Let him go there, will you?

Let them play in the field, will you?

Let her listen to me what I say , will you?

Rule-13: When imperative statement begins with “Don’t” we use “Will you” in the tag question.

Don’t forget me, will you?

Don’t do this work again, will you?

Don’ts speak evil, will you?

Rule-14: When “Each, everybody, everyone, nobody, no, no one, somebody, none, anybody” are used as subject in the statement we use “they/he” according to the

sense of the statement. Remember that most the cases agree with “They”.

Everybody knows the true, don’t they?

Nobody helped him, did they?

Every mother loves her child, don’t they ?

Rule-15: When “everything, nothing, anything, something” are used as subject in the statement we use “It” in the tag question.

Everything is going well, isn’t it?

Something went lost for our mistake, didn’t it?

Nothing waits for us and goes on its rule, does it?

Rule-16: When “All of us, most of us, some of us, every one of us, none of us,” are used as subject in the statement we use “We” in the question tag.

All of us attended in the meeting, didn’t we?

Some of us missed the show, didn’t we?

None of us did this work, did we?

Most of us are resent here, aren’t we?

Rule-17: When “All of you, some of you, most of you, none of you, every one of you” are used as subject in the statement we use “you” in the tag question.

All of you are responsible for this loss, aren’t you?

Some of you have done this nasty work, haven’t you?

Most of you have good manner, haven’t you?

None of you are capable of doing this work, are you?

Rule-18: When “All of them, some of them, most of them, none of them, every one of them” are used as subject in the statement we use “They” in the tag question.

All of them were present in the meeting, weren’t they?

Some of them have heard the name of Sigmund Freud, haven’t they?

None of them has one there, has they?

Rule-19: When introductory “There and It” are used as subject in the statement we use them after auxiliary verb in the tag question.

There are three primary school in our village, aren’t there?

There is a big pond in the village, isn’t there?

It is a good day to make fun, isn’t it?

It is raining, isn’t it?

It isn’t a good idea, is it?

Rule-20: When “Used to” is used in the statement we use “did or didn’t” in the tag

question. Remember that we also can use “usedn’t” in the negative tag question.

However, we can't use “usedn’t to”.

I used to play football every day afternoon with my friends, usedn’t I/didn’t I?

They used to gossip with their grandfather in the evening, didn’t they/usedn’t they?

He didn’t use to smoke, did he?

Rule-21: When “ought to” is used in the statement we use “Ought/oughtn’t” but, in American English, they often use “should/shouldn’t” instead of “Ought/oughtn’t”.

Anyway, we should not use “Should/shouldn’t” except TOEFL, GRE, SAT and similar other tests.

We ought to obey our parents, oughtn’t we?

We ought to respect the older, oughtn’t we?

He oughtn’t to go there without permission, ought he?

Rule-22: When statement has “I am” we use “aren’t I” in the negative tag question.

I am a student, aren’t I?

I am a good speaker, aren’t I?

Rule-23: Seldom, hardly, scarcely, rarely, few, little, a little etc. express negative sense/meaning. Hence, we use affirmative tag question with them.

I know very little about the matter, do I?

We seldom go to village, do we?

Mamun hardly comes to me, does he?

Rule-24: Like assertive sentence, we can also make tag question with exclamatory sentence.

How beautiful the girl is, isn’t she?

What a nice the bird is, isn’t it?

How smartly he speaks, doesn’t he?

Rule-25: If there is no subject or verb in the exclamatory sentence, in this situation, we use “isn’t it” in the tag question.

How odd, isn’t it?

How dirty, isn’t it?

How weird, isn’t it?

Rule-26: We use “isn’t it” with proverb in the tag question.

Honesty is the best policy, isn’t it?

Cut your court according to your cloth, isn’t it?

Oil your own machine, isn’t it?

Industry is the key to success, isn’t it?

Rule-27: Country, motherland, moon, river, earth, train, nature, ship, home, spring, hope, modesty, charity, religion, justice, peace, virtue, beauty, etc. are counted as feminine gender. Hence, we use “She” as pronoun after the auxiliary verb in the tag question. Remember that we can also use “It” in this case according to the meaning or sense.

The nature looks very beautiful, doesn’t she? (Also, doesn’t it?)

The earth moves round the sun, doesn’t it/she?

Bangladesh is my sweet motherland, isn’t she/it?

Rule-28: Death, anger, fear, sun, summer, war, thunder, winter, etc. are counted as masculine gender. Hence, we use “He” as a subject (pronoun form) in the tag question.

The summer is the hottest season, isn’t he? (Also can be used it)

The sun shines brightly, doesn’t it/he?

Death is inevitable for all creatures, isn’t he/it?

Rule-29: For child, inferior animal, material or lifeless substance etc. we use “It” for singular sense and “They” for plural sense.

The baby is crying for food, isn’t it?

This table is suitable for me, isn’t it?

Dogs are faithful animal, aren’t they ?

Rule-30: When “One” is used as a subject in the statement we use "one" in the tag question.

One should do one’s duty, shouldn’t one?

One can do nothing, can one?

One can’t go far in one's life without life partner, can one?

Rule-31: For “Had better/had rather” and “would better/would rather” we use “Hadn’t” and “wouldn’t” respectively.

You had better join us, hadn’t you?

He wouldn’t better leave the job, would he?

They had not better play at noon, had they?

Rule-32: When two or more than two auxiliary verbs are used together in a sentence we use only the first auxiliary verb in the tag question. The auxiliary verbs take place together are :- have been, has been, had been, shall be, will be, shall have, will have, shall have been, will have been etc.

I have been writing a grammar book since 2011, haven’t I?

He has been reading for two hours, hasn’t he?

Alif will have been playing for an hour, haven’t he?

Joy will not be doing the work, will he?

Rule-33: There is no Plural form of adjective, but when we use article “The” before adjective, then adjective acts as plural and we use “They” in place of that in the tag question. Plural adjectives: the poor, the rich, the blind, the pious, the literate, the illiterate, the virtuous etc.

The poor are not always unhappy, are they?

The rich are always happy, aren’t they?

The blind can read and write, can’t they?

Rule-34: In American English, they usually use “Ok” or “Right” in the tag question.

You went there yesterday, right?

They are going to picnic, right?

Nipa will visit to Cox’s Bazaar with us, ok?