Tag Questions

Tag Questions are the small questions that come at the end of sentences. We use tag questions to check whether something is true or to ask for agreement.

Read the sentences in the passage below and answer the questions that follow:

Nafiz is sitting alone in the field. He looks around and speaks to himself. "Birds are free, aren't they? They can fly at large, can't they? They are not the best of creations like man, are they?

Man is the best creation of God, isn't he? He cannot fly in the sky, can he? Birds are a part of our environment. But they do not pollute our environment, do they?

Now look at the following examples of question tags to get more ideas about them:

  • You don't like me, do you?
  • It isn't raining, is it?
  • You've done your homework, haven't you?
  • I'm not late, am I?
  • You like Chinese food, don't you?
  • You remembered to feed the cat, didn't you?
  • There's a problem here, isn't there?
  • You think you're clever, don't you?

Basic Rules for Tag Questions:

Question tags are used after affirmative and negative sentences, but not after questions.

We most often put negative tags after affirmative sentences, and non-negative tags after negative sentences. 


  • We are busy, aren’t we?
  • You haven’t done your assignment, have you?

Negatives are usually contracted, but full forms are possible in formal speech.
Example: They promised to repay us by the end of this month, did they not?

If the main sentence has an auxiliary verb (or non-auxiliary be), this is repeated in the question tag.

If the main sentence has no auxiliary, the question tag has do.

Non-auxiliary has may have both forms.

  • John has passed the exam, hasn’t he?
  • You smoke, don’t you?
  • Linda has a set of blue eyes, hasn’t she? You have a car, don’t you?

Rules for Making Tag Questions

Some Basic Rules for Tag Questions:

Usually, if the main clause is positive, the question tag is negative, and if the main clause is negative, the tag question is positive.

For example:

  • It's cold (positive), isn't it (negative)?
  • It isn't cold (negative), is it (positive)?
  • He’s a doctor, isn’t he?
  • You work in a bank, don’t you?
  • You haven’t met him, have you?
  • She isn’t coming, is she?

With/without auxiliary verbs:

If the main clause has an auxiliary verb in it, we use the same verb in the tag question. If there is no auxiliary verb (in the present simple and past simple), do / does / did is used (just like when you make a normal question).

  • They’ve gone away for a few days, haven’t they?
  • They weren’t here, were they?
  • He had met him before, hadn’t he?
  • This isn’t working, is it?
  • I said that, didn’t I?
  • You don’t recognise me, do you?
  • She eats meat, doesn’t she?

📄 There is one exception:

The question tag after I am is aren't I.
For example:
I'm in charge of the food, aren't I?

With Modal Verbs

If there is a modal verb in the main part of the sentence, the question tag uses the same modal verb.

  • They couldn’t hear me, could they?
  • You won’t tell anyone, will you?

Positive sentences with negative tags:

Present simple 'be':   She's Italian, isn't she?
Present simple other verbs:   They live in London, don't they?
Present continuous:    We're working tomorrow, aren't we?
Past simple 'be':    It was cold yesterday, wasn't it?
Past simple other verbs:    He went to the party last night, didn't he?
Past continuous:    We were waiting at the station, weren't we?
Present perfect:   They've been to Japan, haven't they?
Present perfect continuous:    She's been studying a lot recently, hasn't she?
Past perfect:    He had forgotten his wallet, hadn't he?
Past perfect continuous:    We'd been working, hadn't we?
Future simple:   She'll come at six, won't she?
Future continuous:    They'll be arriving soon, won't they?
Future perfect:    They'll have finished before nine, won't they?
Future perfect continuous:    She'll have been cooking all day, won't she?
Modals:   He can help, can't he?
Modals:   John must stay, mustn't he?

Negative sentences with positive tags:

Present simple 'be': We aren't late, are we?

Present simple other verbs:  She doesn't have any children, does she?

Present continuous: The bus isn't coming, is it?

Past simple 'be':  She wasn't at home yesterday, was she?

Past simple other verbs:  They didn't go out last Sunday, did they?

Past continuous:  You weren't sleeping, were you?

Present perfect: She hasn't eaten all the cake, has she?

Present perfect continuous:  He hasn't been running in this weather, has he?

Past perfect: We hadn't been to London before, had we?

Past perfect continuous:  You hadn't been sleeping, had you?

Future simple: They won't be late, will they?

Future continuous: He'll be studying tonight, won't he?

Future perfect:  She won't have left work before six, will she?

Future perfect continuous:   He won't have been travelling all day, will he?

Modals:  She can't speak Arabic, can she?

Modals:   They mustn't come early, must they?


After imperatives, won’t you? is often used to invite people to do things, and will/would/can/can’t/could you? to tell or ask people to do things.

Do sit down, won’t you?

Shut up, can’t you?

After a negative imperative, we use will you?

Don’t forget, will you?


Let’s have a party, shall you?


There’s something wrong, isn’t there?
There weren’t any problem, were there?

Negative adverbs

The adverbs never, rarely, seldom, hardly, barely and scarcely have a negative sense. Even though they may be in a positive statement, the feeling of the statement is negative. We treat statements with these words like negative statements, so the question tag is normally positive.

  • You never care for people, do you? (Not, don’t you?)
  • There’s little we can do about it, is there?
  • Nobody phoned, did they?
  • I barely know you, do I?
  • You hardly ever came late, did you?

Exercise: A
Use appropriate tag questions in the following sentences:
    1. None can do it, …………?
    2. Neither of them went there, ……….?
    3. Nobody went there, ………..?
    4. Everybody saw you, ………….?
    5. There is no pond in this village, ……..?
    6. It is good idea, ……….?
    7. We ought to love our country, ………..?
    8. He is a brilliant student, …………?
    9. I am not ready, ………..?
    10. I am well, …………?

Answers / Exercise A:

1. can they?
2. did they?
3. did they?
4. didn’t they?
5. isn’t there?
6. isn’t it?
7. shouldn’t we?
8. isn’t he?
9. am I?
10. aren’t I?

Exercise: B
Add question tags to the following sentences.
    1. It’s very hot today, ………..?
    2. You like him, ………….?
    3. Kamal will come, …………?
    4. We must hurry, ………….?
    5. He will never give up, …………….?
    6. Your father is a doctor, ……………..?
    7. You have tea for breakfast, …………….?
    8. I didn’t hurt you, ………………?
    9. You aren’t going out, …………….?
    10. They have sold the house, …………..?
    11. I needn’t get up early tomorrow, …………..?
    12. It isn’t ready yet, ……………?
    13. Hasan hasn’t passed the examination, ……………?
    14. They will go home soon, ………………?
    15. He didn’t paint it himself, …………….?

Answers/Exercise B:

1. isn’t it?
2. don’t you?
3. won’t he?
4. mustn’t we?
5. will he? 
6. isn’t he?
7. don’t you?
8. did I?
9. are you?
10. haven’t they?
11. do I?
12. is it?
13. has he?
14. won’t they?
15. did he?

Exercise: C
Complete the following sentences with appropriate tag questions:
  1. She is collecting stickers, ________?
  2. We often watch TV in the afternoon, __________ ?
  3. You have cleaned your bike, __________?
  4. John and Max don't like maths, _________?
  5. Peter played handball yesterday, __________?
  6. They are going home from school, __________?
  7. Mary didn't do her homework last Monday, _________?
  8. He could have bought a new car, ___________?
  9. Kevin will come tonight, ____________?
  10. I'm clever, _________?
  11. He won't mind if I use his phone, __________?
  12. She is enjoying herself, _________?
  13. You weren't listening, _________?
  14. I'm too impatient, _________?
  15. Tom knows that his father is in the hospital, _________?

Answers/Exercise C :

1. isn't she?
2. don't we?
3. haven't you?
4. do they? 5. didn't he?
6. aren't they?
7. did she?
8. couldn't he?
9. won't he?
10. aren't I?
11. Will he?
12. Isn’t she?
13. Were you?
14. Aren’t I? 
15. Doesn’t he?

Improve Writing Skill ✎

Want to write fluent English?

Although we can speak a little English, many of us have (a) shaky writing condition.

Starting from writing in university examination book, research paper, application form for fellowship or scholarship abroad, many writings including 'Statement of Purpose' are not up to standard. Poor syntax and inconsistent language hold us back. In this article we want to talk about how to write clearly and fluently in English.

How to bring fluency in English writing?

✎ Write regularly, at least 300 words per day

Many of us are afraid to write in English because it is not regularly written in English. The first and most effective way to overcome this weakness is to write every day. Regularly write something in at least 300 words every day. Write down anything in the morning or before going to bed at night. In the beginning, there may be some inertia in the beginning of writing. Write for 10 consecutive days, you will see that this inertia will gradually disappear.

✎ Pay attention to grammar

Pay attention to grammar from the beginning while writing in English. Poor grammar makes even fluent writing unintelligible. Try to learn two to three rules of English grammar every day. Read grammar with examples, don't memorize. A good English grammar book can be used as a 'reference'.

✎ Read English newspapers regularly

Practice daily reading of English outside of subject studies. As the habit of reading newspapers will increase your intellectual skills, you will also find many new topics for writing. At first you may not understand the meaning of many words, it will take time to understand. Read for two consecutive weeks, you will see that the matter will come under control. Even if you don't know the meaning of one or two words, you can catch the meaning of the sentence. Regular reading habits will gradually affect your writing.

✎ Read topical journal articles

Practice reading articles of your choice in reputed English magazines or journals including Time Magazine, Reader's Digest, The Economist. Apply the style of writing in magazines to your own writing. If you practice this for four weeks, you will feel the changes in your writing.

✎ Not writing just for the sake of writing

Just writing on the paper, and not trying to find out what had gone wrong, then it would not. Mistakes will remain. In this case, you can request someone who knows and understands good English to read what you are writing every day. Take feedback from him and correct any weaknesses and mistakes. If you can't find someone like that, you can ask a university or college teacher. Pay attention to what is going wrong, try to correct the mistakes. You can try to learn about open writing practice and what is going wrong from the writeandimprove.com website.

✎ Expand vocabulary

We use very common words in writing. Focus on using multidimensional words to write fluently in English. Even very short and concise writing can be made interesting by using variety of words without writing the same sentence or the same sentence structure over and over again. Try to learn five to eight new words every day. Instead of learning GRE-GMAT test vocabulary first, find useful words from the Internet. Devote time to vocabulary enrichment for two consecutive months. Fix the words to be learned in the morning, remember them throughout the day. Writing those words down a few times will make it easier to remember.

✎ Learn to write beautiful sentences, make a difference

Practice writing beautiful sentences for writing various thesis papers and assignments, including applications for higher education, statements of purpose. You can learn sentence structure by looking at some examples (templates) found on the internet. Practice writing the same sentence in different ways. Practice like this for six weeks, you will see a change in writing. The website owl.english.purdue.edu will give you ideas about different syntax.

✎ Follow, understand

Practice writing by following an author you like. Try to understand the author's thinking. Keep practicing until your writing is perfect. Before writing anything, make a mental map of what to write. Get into the habit of writing within a certain period of time by dividing the portions accordingly.

✎ Practice what you learn every day

Practice what you learn every day. From writing on Facebook to writing e-mails, try to apply what you learn. It is better not to write in the habit of 'shortcut' while writing on Facebook or writing small messages. In the case of online writing, take assistance in writing accurate sentences with the help of various apps-software-websites including Grammarly, Ginger software.

✎ Submit articles to magazines

You can also learn writing from open English writing courses like YouTube and Coursera (www.coursera.org). Do not translate your mother language to English in your mind while writing. Emphasize the use of 'linking words' and 'phrases' to bring fluency to writing. Start submitting articles to opinion pages of good quality local and foreign magazines for variety of writing. It might not print at first, but keep trying. When printed, note how the editor has edited which sections. Feel free to take advice from friends or colleagues who write well in English.

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