Question Tags - Explore Meaning, Definition and How to Use with Examples

Today is a good day, isn’t it?

All of us are used to asking questions when we need to gather some information. Using interrogative sentences is one way to do it. Do you know that there is also something called question tags? Well, let us learn what they are, their definition and usage. Also, check out the examples given in the article to have a clear idea of the same.

Table of Contents

What is a Question Tag?

A question tag can be generally described as a simple statement followed by a short question. Question tags are most often used in spoken language to confirm something that is said and also to encourage the listener to give an answer. In written language, the use of question tags can be seen only in dialogue writing and in stories which include dialogues.

Definition of a Question Tag

A question tag or a tag question, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, is defined as “a phrase such as ‘isn’t it?’ or ‘don’t you?’ that you add to the end of a statement in order to turn it into a question or check that the statement is correct, as in, you like mushrooms, don’t you?” The Cambridge Dictionary defines a question tag as “a short phrase such as “isn’t it” or “don’t you” that is added to the end of a sentence to check information or to ask if someone agrees with you”, and according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a question tag is “a question (such as isn’t it in “it’s fine, isn’t it?”) added to a statement or command (as to gain the assent of or challenge the person addressed)”. The Collins Dictionary definition of a question tag is as follows – “In grammar, a question tag is a very short clause at the end of a statement which changes the statement into a question. For example, in ‘She said half price, didn’t she?’, the words ‘didn’t she’ are a question tag.”

Forming and Using Question Tags in Sentences

While question tags can look pretty easy to use, there are a few things you have to be mindful of when using them. Take a look at the following points to learn how to use a question tag accurately in a sentence.

  • A sentence with a question tag takes the form – Statement, question tag?
  • The punctuation of a sentence with a question is as follows – Capital letter to begin the sentence, a comma at the end of the statement, followed by the tag question and a question mark.
  • The use of pronouns in question tags is another thing you need to focus on. If a pronoun is used as the subject, use the same pronoun in the question tag. On the other hand, if a noun (name of a person/place/animal/thing/idea) or a noun phrase acts as the subject in the statement, use a pronoun based on the gender/number in the question tag.
  • If the statement is positive or affirmative, the question tag should be negative, and if the statement is negative, the question tag used should be positive.

For example: You are happy, aren’t you? (Positive statement – negative tag)

You aren’t happy, are you? (Negative statement – positive tag)

  • When a statement expresses emotions of anger, surprise or interest, the question tag used has to be positive even though the statement is positive. For example: You think it is something to be proud of, do you?
  • When there are two verbs (a main verb and an auxiliary/helping verb) in a sentence, the question tag should be formed using the auxiliary verb. For example: They were waiting for her, weren’t they?
  • If the sentence contains a modal auxiliary verb, the question tag has to be formed using the modal verb. For example: The students should bring their parents for the meeting, shouldn’t they?
  • Sentences with ‘have’, ‘has’ and ‘had’ as the main verb use the positive and negative form of ‘do’ as the question tag. For example: You have a pair of shoes, don’t you?
  • Sentences with pronouns such as ‘nothing’ and ‘nobody’ should be considered negative statements and a positive tag has to be used. For example, Nothing is working, is it?
  • Sentences with action verbs in the simple present tense form a question tag using the verb ‘do/does’ and its corresponding negative form. For example: He teaches Chemistry, doesn’t he?
  • A sentence in the past tense will have question tags formed using the verb ‘did’. For example: Harry and Ron played tennis, didn’t they?
  • As far as imperative sentences are concerned, use the positive or negative form of the verb ‘will’ to form the question tag.

Verbs and Their Corresponding Question Tags

Forming question tags is one of the easily comprehensible grammatical components in the English language. However, there are some exceptions. Check out the following table to have a clear idea of the verb and its question tag.

Positive Statement – Negative Tag

Negative Statement – Positive Tag

Subject + Verb

Question Tag + Pronoun

Subject + Verb

Question Tag + Pronoun

Simple Present Tense

I am

Aren’t I?

I am not

Am I?

You are

Aren’t you?

You are not

Are you?

He is

Isn’t he?

He is not

Is he?

She is

Isn’t she?

She is not

Is she?

It is

Isn’t it?

It is not

Is it?

They are

Aren’t they?

They are not

Are they?

We are

Aren’t we?

We are not

Are we?

Simple Past Tense

I was

Wasn’t I?

I was not

Was I?

You were

Weren’t you?

You were not

Were you?

He was

Wasn’t he?

He was not

Was he?

She was

Wasn’t she?

She was not

Was she?

It was

Wasn’t it?

It was not

Was it?

They were

Weren’t they?

They were not

Were they?

We were

Weren’t we?

We were not

Were we?

Simple Future Tense

I will

Won’t I?

I will not

Will I?

You will

Won’t you?

You will not

Will you?

He will

Won’t he?

He will not

Will he?

She will

Won’t she?

She will not

Will she?

It will

Won’t it

It will not

Will it?

They will

Won’t they?

They will not

Will they?

We will

Won’t we?

We will not

Will we?

Present Perfect Tense

I have

Haven’t I?

I have not

Have I?

You have

Haven’t you?

You have not

Have you?

He has

Hasn’t he?

He has not

Has he?

She has

Hasn’t she?

She has not

Has she?

It has

Hasn’t it?

It has not

Has it?

They have

Haven’t they?

They have not

Have they?

We have

Haven’t we?

We have not

Have we?

Past Perfect Tense

I had

Hadn’t I?

I had not

Had I?

You had

Hadn’t you?

You had not

Had you?

He had

Hadn’t he?

He had not

Had he?

She had

Hadn’t she?

She had not

Had she?

It had

Hadn’t it?

It had not

Had it?

They had

Hadn’t they?

They had not

Had they?

We had

Hadn’t we?

We had not

Had we?

Future Perfect Tense

I will have

Won’t I?

I will not have

Will I?

You will have

Won’t you?

You will not have

Will you?

He will have

Won’t he?

He will not have

Will he?

She will have

Won’t she?

She will not have

Will she?

It will have

Won’t it

It will not have

Will it?

They will have

Won’t they?

They will not have

Will they?

We will have

Won’t we?

We will not have

Will we?

Sentence with Modal Verbs

I/You/We/They/He/

She/It would

Wouldn’t I/you/we/they/he/

she/it?

I/You/We/They/He/

She/It wouldn’t

Would I/you/we/they/he/

she/it?

I/You/We/They/He/

She/It could

Couldn’t I/you/we/they/he/

she/it?

I/You/We/They/He/

She/It couldn’t

Could I/you/we/they/he/

she/it?

I/You/We/They/He/

She/It must

Mustn’t I/you/we/they/he/

she/it?

I/You/We/They/He/

She/It mustn’t

Must I/you/we/they/he/

she/it?

I/You/We/They/He/

She/It should

Shouldn’t I/you/we/they/he/

she/it?

I/You/We/They/He/

She/It shouldn’t

Should I/you/we/they/he/

she/it?

I/You/We/They/He/

She/It can

Can’t I/you/we/they/he/

she/it?

I/You/We/They/He/

She/It can’t

Can I/you/we/they/he/

she/it?

Sentence with Action Verb in the Simple Past Tense

I/You/We/They like

Don’t I/you/we/they?

I/You/We/They do not like

Do I/you/we/they?

He/She likes

Doesn’t he/she?

He/She does not like

Does he/she?

It rings

Doesn’t it?

It does not ring

Does it?

Sentence with Action Verb in the Simple Past Tense

I/You/We/They liked

Didn’t I/you/we/they?

I/You/We/They did not like

Did I/you/we/they?

He/She liked

Didn’t he/she?

He/She did not like

Did he/she?

It rang

Didn’t it?

It did not ring

Did it?

Examples of Sentences with Question Tags

Now that you know the function of question tags and how it is formed, read through the following 20+ question tag examples and analyse how it works.

Positive Statements with Negative Question Tags

  • Shahina is the new lead, isn’t she?
  • They have confirmed, haven’t they?
  • Tharun and Varun are on their way to the airport, aren’t they?
  • Her father is a doctor, isn’t he?
  • The baby elephant that fell into the well was rescued by the locals, wasn’t it?
  • Arranging transport and accommodation for the guests had been their first priority, hadn’t it?
  • You like cookies, don’t you?
  • Bring me some tissue papers, will you?
  • They bought a new LED television, didn’t they?
  • You have been looking for an apartment, haven’t you?

Negative Statements with Positive Question Tags

  • Ritu and Brinha were not the best of friends from the start, were they?
  • Sheena will not be attending the ceremony, will she?
  • She would not have done that, would she?
  • They have not arrived yet, have they?
  • Buying a new car when you already had a loan wasn’t a good idea, was it?
  • Making small talk isn’t your forte, is it?
  • Balu, the bear isn’t the one that saves Mowgli from the monkeys, is it?
  • All students have not submitted their assignments yet, have they?
  • Tina had not informed the others about the change of venue, had she?
  • You cannot survive without your phone, can you?

Positive Statements with Positive Question Tags to Express Interest, Anger and Surprise

  • She is going ahead with her decision, is she?
  • So they are moving to Italy, are they?
  • You think this is a joke, do you?
  • You’re just going to sit there, are you?
  • So this is the way it is going to be from now on, is it?

Check Your Understanding on Question Tags

Here is an exercise for you to check how far you have understood the use of question tags. Go through and add question tags to the following sentences.

1. You must be there by 11:30 a.m., ___________

2. Gowri is not present today, ___________

3. The teacher had asked you to submit an address proof, ___________

4. He is the prime suspect, ___________

5. Harini and Gowtham were not here, ___________

6. Get me the duster, ___________

7. I don’t think your sister will be pleased to see this, ___________

8. You will have waited for me, ___________

9. They brought a bottle of wine when they came, ___________

10. Dom and Andreah have a baby girl, ___________

Find out if you have got them all right from the answers given below.

1. You must be there by 11:30 a.m., mustn’t you?

2. Gowri is not present today, is she?

3. The teacher had asked you to submit an address proof, hadn’t she?

4. He is the prime suspect, isn’t he?

5. Harini and Gowtham were not here, were they?

6. Get me the duster, will you?

7. I don’t think your sister will be pleased to see this, will she?

8. You will have waited for me, won’t you?

9. They brought a bottle of wine when they came, didn’t they?

10. Dom and Andreah have a baby girl, don’t they?

Check out more question tags exercises to improve your knowledge of question tags and its usage.

Frequently Asked Questions on Question Tags

What is a question tag?

A question tag is a simple statement followed by a short question. Question tags are most often used in spoken language to confirm something that is said and also to encourage the listener to give an answer.

What is the structure of a sentence with a question tag?

A sentence containing a question tag will have the following structure:
Positive statement, negative tag?
Negative statement, positive tag?

What are the exceptions to be taken care of when using question tags?

Here are a few exceptions to be noted when using question tags.

  • Sentences with ‘have’, ‘has’ and ‘had’ as the main verb use the positive and negative form of ‘do’ as the question tag.
  • Sentences with pronouns such as ‘nothing’ and ‘nobody’ should be considered negative statements and a positive tag has to be used. For example, Nothing is working, is it?
  • Sentences with action verbs in the simple present tense form a question tag using the verb ‘do/does’ and its corresponding negative form.
  • A sentence in the past tense will have question tags formed using the verb ‘did’.
  • As far as imperative sentences are concerned, use the positive or negative form of the verb ‘will’ to form the question tag.
  • When a statement expresses emotions of anger, surprise or interest, the question tag used has to be positive even though the statement is positive.

Give some examples of sentences with question tags.

Here is a list of sentences with question tags for your reference.

  • Bring a loaf of bread when you come, will you?
  • You did not find the book you were looking for, did you?
  • Nobody knew what happened to Sandeep, did they?
  • He has been meaning to talk to you about it, hasn’t he?
  • Everything was planned perfectly, wasn’t it?