English Grammar Step by Step
Question tags are normally used in informal speech or writing.
Therefore, we usually contract them. If we say a question tag
with a falling intonation, it is not a real question, that is
to say we just want our listener(s) to agree with us. However,
if it is uttered with a rising intonation, it is a real question,
as we are not sure whether something is true or not. They mean
ďisnít it true/right?Ē or ďis it true/right?Ē.
Add question tags to the statements given below.
John can come next weekend, canít he?
John canít come next weekend, can he?
a I can ride a bicycle.
b She canít help talking nonsense.
c They canít take your car.
d We can arrange a big party.
e It canít be done.
I am your best schoolmate, arenít I? (am I not? is also possible
in a more formal context.)
I am not your best schoolmate, am I?
a Iím very intelligent.
b Iím not very clever.
c I am not to blame for the accident.
d Iím very naughty.
e I am very spoilt.
3 Examples: (he, she, it is; you, we, they are; see unit 6,
part 1, section 1.)
This is rubbish, isnít it?
This is not rubbish, is it?
a Paul isnít the black sheep of the family.
b Itís a deal.
c Margaret and Mrs Green are speaking ill about Mr Green.
d There arenít any strawberries left.
e There are two beds.
4 Examples: (he, she, it has; other persons, have; see
unit 6, part 4, sections 1 and 2.)
Sheís got a beautiful smile, hasnít she?
She hasnít got a beautiful smile, has she?
a Youíve got ten quid.
b Itís got six sides.
c She hasnít got a son and two daughters.
d Theyíve got some unripe bananas.
e I havenít got a lot of apricots.
5 Examples: (simple present; all the persons, but the third
person singular; see also unit 7, part 1.)
My sisters love chatting to friends, donít they?
My sisters donít love chatting to friends, do they?
a You start work at 8 am.
b You donít finish work at 5 pm.
c They enjoy long conversations.
d You donít share anything.
e I talk too much.
6 Examples: (simple present; third person singular:
he, she, it; see also unit 7, part 1.)
This irritates him, doesnít it?
This doesnít irritate him, does it?
a He doesnít worry about car accidents.
b His dog leads his blind sister home.
c She wants to have a child.
d It smells fishy to you.
e She doesnít approve of parties.
7 Revision exercise.
a She revises your work.
b She doesnít like this corridor.
c Iím the best singer in the world.
d I am not an amateur.
e They havenít got the keys.
f He always rings the bell.
g They donít go out very often.
h He doesnít sell vegetables.
i There arenít great expectations.
j We are quits now.
k He is going to phone Ann first thing in the morning.
l You hate hunting.
m You canít land a plane.
n He is going to wind the clock.
o Life is hard.
p Charles and William arenít taking driving lessons.
q Natasha does not know what to do.
r My dogs donít bark at night.
s They canít leave this door open.
t Ingrid takes things easy.
u Maggie is easygoing.
v You remember the first time we met.
w It doesnít work properly.
x Oliver and Jeremy think this crossword is as easy as
falling of a log.
y You donít agree with them.
z A lady doesnít smoke cigars.
8 Examples: (simple past; irregular verbs; see the list provided
in unit 8; see also unit 7, part 3.)
Mary and John went to Cuba, didnít they?
Mary and John didnít go to Cuba, did they?
a Judith didnít feed her Alsatian dog last night.
b The vessel sank.
c It froze yesterday night.
d They didnít take cover from the blizzard.
e They didnít find their way out.
9 Examples: (simple past; regular verbs; see unit 7, part 3.)
Jason camplained about the food, didnít he?
Jason didnít complain about the food, did he?
a Kevin dropped the soup.
b Your grandfather always carried a stick.
c Barry robbed them last month.
d Christopher joined the army last year.
e His wound didnít heal.
10 Examples: (I, he, she, it was; you, we, they were; see unit 6,
part 1, section 2.)
You were frightened to death, werenít you?
You werenít frightened to death, were you?
a There wasnít anything to eat or drink.
b We were in danger.
c He wasnít inside the cafť.
d She was outside the bookshop.
e They were very sensitive.
He never goes to church, does he?
They hardly ever go to Lauraís surgery, do they?
Barely, hardly, neither, never, nobody, scarcely, seldom, and
so on, are negative words. Consequently, we shall use an
affirmative interrogative tag. See units 5 (section 3) and
14 (section 9).
a There is no butter left.
b Nothing matters now.
c I never drink beer.
d He seldom stays at home.
e He can barely read.
Nobody puts up with her behaviour, do they?
Everything was said, wasnít it?
We normally use they in the tag after anybody, anyone, everybody,
everyone, nobody, no-one, somebody, someone, and any other
singular words referring to people. However, he can be employed
in more formal speech or writing. The change of he to they is
due to the fact that many people consider he sexually bias. If
we refer to things (anything, everything, nothing, something),
we use it. See unit 10, section 9.
a Nobody knows where the treasure is hidden.
b Nothing was done about it.
c Everything is very expensive nowadays.
d Everybody gave him a warm reception.
e Every child has to help to lay the table.
13 Revision exercise.
a Edgarís talk was a failure.
b The van crashed into a wall.
c We didnít buy any pears.
d My dog buried the bone.
e I canít look her up when I go to Glasgow.
f Your boss had to do without his secretary yesterday morning.
g She wants to open a stationerís shop.
h No-one betrayed you.
i She yelled at you about your getting there late.
j She hugged him.
k I canít catch up with you.
l Mildred never shows off.
m They were always boasting.
n Nothing grows up there.
o He wasnít up when you looked in on him at eight oíclock in
p I told you not to hit your sister.
q He doesnít cook very well.
r Philip didnít climb that oak-tree.
s Monica and you donít often make your beds.
t None of them entered the hut.
u Her new boss was impressed by her good manners.
v I am a good politician.
w Iím not in the mood for going out tonight.
x They havenít got your purse.
y He is in a good temper today.
z She concluded by saying that oneís family always comes last.
They are also called Ďtag questionsí.
If the tag is positive, we expect a negative reply; if it is
negative, a positive one:
ĎShe isnít cold-hearted, is she?í
ĎNo, she isnít.í
ĎThey should at least acquaint themselves with the machinery,
ĎYes, I think they should.í
Use there as the subject of the question tag.
Author: Miquel Molina i Diez
Pages: 1, 2 and the key
1 Negative and interrogative sentences (Page 2 and the key)
2 Short answers (Page 2 and the key)
3 Question tags (Page 2 and the key)
4 Questions and exclamations (Page 2 and the key)
5 So, neither, nor, either (the key)
6 Be, used to, would, be/get/become used to, dare, have, get, become, grow, go, turn, fall and feel (Page 2 and the key)
7 Verb tenses: forms (Page 2 and the key)
8 Irregular verbs
9 Verb tenses: uses (Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5 and the key)
10 Personal pronouns, possessives and reflexive pronouns (Page 2 and the key)
11 The genitive case (the key)
12 Singular and plural nouns (Page 2 and the key)
13 Gender (the key)
14 A, an, some, any, no, not, none, each, every and the; compounds of some, any, no and every (Page 2, Page 3 and the key)
15 Neither, not...either, none, not...any, both and all (the key)
16 A few, few, a lot, lots, a little, little, many, much, no and plenty (the key)
17 Enough, too, so and such (the key)
18 Comparative and superlative sentences (Page 2 and the key)
19 Adjective order (the key)
20 Relative clauses (Page 2 and the key)
21 Do and make (the key)
22 Modal verbs (Page 2, Page 3 and the key)
23 Infinitives, gerunds and present participles (Page 2 and the key)
24 Conditional sentences (Page 2 and the key)
25 Passive sentences (the key)
26 Reported speech (Page 2 and the key)
27 Purpose (the key)
28 Word order (the key)
29 Inversion (the key)
30 Connectors (Page 2 and the key)
31 Prepositions (Page 2, Page 3 and the key)
32 Phrasal verbs (the key)