Free English Lessons

Video Lesson – Question Tags

by Oli Redman on 11 September, 2014 , No comments

You know what question tags are, don’t you? You can understand this sentence, can’t you? This lesson is about question tags. Question tags are one way to make a question in English. We’re going to see how and when and why you should use question tags.

1. What Is a Question Tag?

A question tag is when you make a question by adding words to the end of a sentence.

For example:

  • You know a lot of people here. –> sentence
  • Do you know a lot of people here? –> normal question
  • You know a lot of people here, don’t you? –> question made with question tag

2. How do You Make a Question Tag?

Question tags can be made with different verbs. The verb you use in the question tag depends on the verb you use in the sentence.

  • He isn’t going to tell her, is he?
  • They won’t be late, will they?
  • She can swim, can’t she?
  • Your house has a garden, doesn’t it?

A question: why do we say doesn’t it in the last example, why not hasn’t it?

It’s because we don’t use the main verb in the question tag. We use the auxiliary verb. The auxiliary verb is the verb you use to make negatives or questions with a verb.

Also, in our examples here, the questions are positive, but the tags are negative. Usually, the question and its tag are opposite:

  • She isn’t coming, is she?
  • Your brother doesn’t know about it, does he?

So, if the question is positive, the tag is usually negative, and if the question is negative, the tag is usually positive.

3. Why Should You Use Question Tags?

We usually use a question tag when we expect one answer more than others.

So, if you already have an idea about something, you think you know, but you want to check, you might use a question tag.

For example:

  • Do you know where he is? –> This is an open question. It suggests I have no idea if you will say yes or no.
  • You know where he is, don’t you? –> The question tag suggests that I think you know where he is, so I am expecting you to say yes.
  • You don’t know where he is, do you? –> The question tag here suggests that I am expecting you to say no.

4. Pronunciation in Question Tags

Actually, you can make two different types of questions with question tags.

  • She isn’t here, is she? –> rising intonation
  • She isn’t here, is she? –> falling intonation

Can you hear the difference between the questions? They’re quite different.

If your voice goes up on the question tag, it means you aren’t completely sure, so the question is more open.

If your voice goes down on the question tag, it means you are sure, and you aren’t really asking an open question.

Complete the question tags

  1. She doesn’t drink coffee, ________ she?
  2. She drinks coffee, ________ she?
  3. She hasn’t drunk coffee before, ________ she?
  4. She’ll have coffee with us, ________ she?
  5. She’s going to have coffee with us, ________ she?

Listen to the five sentences and decide if the speaker is sure or not sure (listen whether my voice goes up or down)

  1. He isn’t going to tell her, is he?
  2. They won’t be late, will they?
  3. She can swim, can’t she?
  4. Your house has a garden, doesn’t it?
  5. Your brother doesn’t know about it, does he?
  1. does
  2. doesn’t
  3. has
  4. won’t
  5. isn’t
  6. sure
  7. sure
  8. not sure
  9. sure
  10. not sure
Oli RedmanVideo Lesson – Question Tags