Question tags

Sophie is in the Australian outback and not everything goes to plan. 


As you watch the video, look at the examples of question tags. They are in red in the subtitles. Then read the conversation below to learn more. Finally, do the grammar exercises to check you understand, and can use, the question tags correctly.


Ollie: What time is it? Oh, hi, Mum. It’s a bit early, isn’t it?
Sophie: Oh, yes, I suppose it is. Look, Ollie, I’ve got to ask you a really huge favour …
Ollie: Slow down, Mum. I’m not awake yet.
Sophie: Sorry, love. It’s just that I’ve got a bit of a problem. I’ve broken down …
Ollie: Hang on, you’re in a desert in the middle of Australia, aren’t you?
Sophie: It’s not exactly a desert, you know. It’s called the outback.
Ollie: Mum! It’s really dangerous to get stuck out there!
Sophie: It’s not so bad, but I need you to find someone in Alice Springs who will come and get me. Tell them that I’m about two hours away on the Stuart Highway, south of Alice. I can’t look for information because there’s no mobile coverage here and I can’t get the internet.
Ollie: So how are you phoning me?
Sophie: On my satellite phone, of course.
Daisy: What’s going on? Mum isn’t in trouble, is she?
Ollie: Yes …
Sophie: No, I’m fine. I’ve got plenty of food and water.
Ollie: But it must be really hot out there.
Daisy: Oh, we told you not to drive in the outback on your own, didn’t we?
Sophie: Listen, you two, I’m absolutely fine. I just need a bit of help with a phone call. These things happen when you travel independently. You can’t expect to see the world without a few little problems.
Daisy: Uh oh, I can feel the travel versus tourism lecture coming on.
Sophie: That’s enough from you two. Ollie, the satellite number is on the fridge. Give me a call when you’ve arranged something.
Ollie: OK, Mum, it’s your phone bill. Keep cool!
Sophie: I’ll try. Bye loves, and thanks!
Ollie: I think she might be getting a bit old for this sort of travelling, don’t you?
Daisy: Nah, she’ll be OK. She’s a lot tougher than you or me. I can’t imagine her doing anything else, can you?

We add question tags to the end of statements to turn them into questions. They are used in spoken language, especially when we want to check something is true, or invite people to agree with us.

So how do we form question tags?

We add a clause in the form of a question at the end of a sentence. If the main part of the sentence is positive we usually add a negative question tag.

It’s a bit early, isn’t it?

If the main part is negative, we usually add a positive question tag.

Mum isn’t in trouble, is she?

OK, that seems easy.

Yes, but you need to think about what verb to use in the tag. If there is an auxiliary, a modal verb or the verb to be in the main clause, we use that in the question tag.

You’re in a desert in the middle of Australia, aren’t you?

If there is another main verb, we use do in the correct form (as we would with questions and negatives).

I think she might be getting a bit old for this sort of travelling, don’t you?
We told you not to drive in the outback on your own, didn’t we?

OK, so the question tag refers to the subject of the main sentence.

Yes, very often, but sometimes it doesn’t.

I can’t imagine her doing anything else, can you?

Are there any exceptions?

There are a few. We use 'aren’t I' instead of the more logical 'amn’t I'.

I’m next in the queue, aren’t I?

Where is the stress in question tags?

It’s on the verb and the intonation is usually falling, unless the speaker isn’t sure about some kind of factual information, then it’s rising.

You’re from Beijing, aren’t you? (falling intonation = you’re fairly sure)
You’re from Beijing, aren’t you? (rising intonation = you’re not very sure and want the other person to confirm the information)

You use them a lot in conversation, don’t you?

Yes, we do. We use them a lot to try and involve other people in conversations.

So I’d better start using them more, hadn’t I?



Other languages don't really have question tags, do they?

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Submitted by rebbit2009 on Tue, 08/23/2022 - 08:27

We also have question tags, but they are much easier to use))

Submitted by strawberry123_ on Wed, 06/22/2022 - 14:44

We have question tags, but they don`t change, it`s usually 2 words

Submitted by Ira1321 on Mon, 11/29/2021 - 12:09

I am from Russia,and so in our country we have these tag questions.Let them not be so used, but still we use them.
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Submitted by Cfvdv on Tue, 04/06/2021 - 19:14

Yes, in portuguese we use many times question tags, but we use more 'isn't it', when translated to portuguese. But in the other language that I speak, Dutch we never use question tags...

Submitted by Didik on Thu, 04/01/2021 - 18:04

I can speak two diferents leaguages, portuguese and dutch. I'm sure that portuguese has questions tag, but duth never use it, it is not even in the dutch grammar.

Submitted by Arivelde on Thu, 04/01/2021 - 15:42

I can speak some other languages them my own, and in most of them there are question tags, like in spanish and portuguese, however in dutch they don't use those question tags. I think that the most known languages have question tags, but other ones do not acualy use it.

Submitted by hermione123 on Fri, 01/01/2021 - 00:18

I'm Indonesian. I can speak two languages, indonesian and javaneese (it's a regional languages). i think both of them have question tags.
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Submitted by Andrii on Fri, 11/20/2020 - 19:23

I speak Russian and Ukrainian languages and there are question tags in these languages. And I'm sure that there are lots of question tags in other languages, aren't they?

Submitted by Stasiia_Ukr on Wed, 10/21/2020 - 10:23

Hi! I'm from Ukraine and we have only one question tag. For example: You are a doctor, like that/yes? Question tags are the easiest and logical grammer, aren't they? If you use them regulary, your speach will become more interesting and full. Good luck in learning English! ;)))))))
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Submitted by Giovannichoi on Fri, 08/07/2020 - 08:38

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Submitted by Giovannichoi on Thu, 08/06/2020 - 09:49

I'm Korean and I think there is sort of question tags. These means 'right?'. So, we say ' 'Those pizza was good. Wasn't those?'. But there is no grammer like question tag in Korean, so it's just the pharase which has similar meaning with English's question tag. It's a bit strange to say with transcription some sentences with question tags in Korean.
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Submitted by iloveenglish4 on Fri, 07/03/2020 - 13:24

Hello, I'm from Poland and in my Polish language we actually do have such thing like question tags but it isn't very nice and formal when we use them. Also we don't have specific rules for these because it is only one phrase in all of the sentences. I can compare polish question tags to English "like" but at the end of the sentence after a comma. It's just a interlude.

Submitted by gio_cra2004 on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 14:38

The question tag are words added at the end of the speech to affirm something; in our language this is not used except for some special cases such as in poems.

Submitted by mmatildepontoni04 on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 13:39

In italian language we don't usually use questions tag. It is sometimes used when a speaker is unsure about if something is right or not
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Submitted by empty on Sun, 06/23/2019 - 16:04

Hi everyone In my mother tongue , Persian , for question tags , we say a same sentence as it is in English , but in Persian .
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Submitted by Youjiro on Sat, 02/02/2019 - 11:31

Yes,We don't have Question tags.I talk with English speaker in the English class.They don't use Question tags so often.Question tags is not use in conversation isn't it?
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Submitted by lifestar230 on Tue, 08/28/2018 - 00:13

I live in Australia, but in Melbourne, I love to do lots of Everything! in this city
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