Question tags

A tag question is a special construction in English. We usually use them for checking information that we think we know is true or for asking for confirmation that we have heard something correctly. They are very common in English.

Useful rules

If the main clause is positive, the question tag is negative.

You are tired (positive), aren’t you (negative)?

If the main clause is negative, the question tag is positive.


You aren’t tired (negative), are you (positive)?

If the main clause has an auxiliary verb, you use the same verb in the question tag. When there is no auxiliary verb (in the present simple and past simple) use do / does / did.

We have seen that, haven’t we ?

You are coming, aren’t you?

EXCEPTION

There is one notable exception to the rules.
After
I am you use aren’t I in the question tag.
I am right, aren’t I?

VERB TENSES

Simple present ‘to be’

Phill is a teacher, isn’t he?

Simple present other verbs

She speaks Bulgarian, doesn’t she?

Present continuous

Elisa is studying in Oxford, isn’t she?

Simple past ‘to be’ 

Last winter was really cold, wasn’t it?

Simple past other verbs 

Olivier talked to Benoit yesterday, didn’t he?

Past continuous 

You were living in China, weren’t you?

Present perfect

We’ve visited Europe, haven’t we?

Present perfect continuous 

We’ve been learning about Ancient Greece recently, haven’t we?

Past perfect

Emilia had left her books at the library, hadn’t she?

Past perfect continuous

Maria and Daria had been running, hadn’t they?

Simple future (with ‘will’)

Your grandparents will come next month, won’t they?

Learning is easy and fun!

2 Comments

  1. I wasn’t aware that these are called tag questions so thanks for increasing my knowledge. This exception was something new for me – “I am right, aren’t I?”

    I have seen a lot of people making mistakes while framing tag questions so, I will be correcting them from now onwards.

  2. I am lucky that I found this site. As a student, I am trying to improve my English. It is not my native language so I face problems sometimes. Good to learn about tag questions today. I will try to use them more when I speak.

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