Question Tags are short questions at the end of statements. They are mainly used in speech when we want to:
- confirm that something is true or not, or
- to encourage a reply from the person we are speaking to.
Question tags are formed with the auxiliary or modal verb from the statement and the appropriate subject.
A positive statement is followed by a negative question tag.
Jack is from Spain, isn't he?
Mary can speak English, can't she?
A negative statement is followed by a positive question tag.
They aren't funny, are they?
He shouldn't say things like that, should he?
When the verb in the main sentence is in the present simple we form the question tag withdo / does.
You play the guitar, don't you?
Alison likes tennis, doesn't she?
If the verb is in the past simple we use did.
They went to the cinema, didn't they?
She studied in New Zealand, didn't she?
When the statement contains a word with a negative meaning, the question tag needs to be positive
He hardly ever speaks, does he?
They rarely eat in restaurants, do they?
Some verbs / expressions have different question tags. For example:
- I am: I am attractive, aren't I?
- The positive imperative turns the question tag into a polite request:
Stop daydreaming, will / won't you?
- The negative imperative turns the question tag into an invitation:
Have another cake, won't you?
Do sit down, won't you?
- Let's: Let's go to the beach, shall we?
- Have got (possession): He has got a car, hasn't he?
- There is / are: There aren't any spiders in the bedroom, are there?
- This / that is: This is Paul's pen, isn't it?
- Nothing, nobody, no one always take a positive auxiliary: nothing is the same, is it?
- With somebody, anybody, nobody, someone, anyone, no one, everybody, everyone, although the main statement is in the singular, the question tag will take the auxiliary in the plural, and the subject pronoun will be they:
nobody knows, do they?
everybody is coming, aren't they?