Question Tags or Tag Questions


Objectives of today’s lesson:

In this lesson, Learn English with Julia presents to you “Question Tags or Tag Questions”, in order to:

  • understand the tag question rules
  • complete some tag question exercises
  • see English grammar question tags examples
  • understand the different types of question tag


Video Script:

hello and welcome to this video!
we’ll be looking at question tags together.
You know what a question tag is, don’t you?
You don’t know what a question tag is, do you?
Now those were two examples of little questions of questions tags at the end of my statements.
Now why did I add those little question tags?
I was expecting a comment, a reaction.
So it’s something we use a lot in spoken English.
That is when we use question tags: in spoken English when we’re asking another person to comment on the statement we’ve just made if we’ve simply decided to get a reaction or a comment at the very last minute
It’s warm today, isn’t it?
So we just add a little tag, a question tag, to transform a statement into a question. That is when we use question tags
Now how do we create question tags? Well generally if our statement is positive
“it is warm today” my tag my question tag will be negative: “isn’t it?”
It is warm today (positive), isn’t it? (negative question tag)
What if my statement is negative? Well then we would expect to see a positive question tag
For instance: It isn’t cold today, is it? (my question is positive)

So that is the general rule, the general forms.
We’ll see that there are very few but there are, unfortunately, some exceptions.
Let’s look at how to create my tag, how to
create my question
based on the tense used in my statement.
So let’s say I have the present, so the simple present of “to be”
in my statement – whether positive or
It generally means that my tag
has to be the simple present of “to be”
that’s the rule.
For example: today is warm.
Here we have the present of “to be”.
So in my question tag I will need the present of “to be”
in the opposite – so if it’s positive which it is here it has to be negative and vice versa
today’s warm, isn’t it?
now here as you can
see we’re using a pronoun, we’re not
going to say “today is warm, is not today?”*
we have to replace “today” by “it” (a
So first of all, the tense being the present simple of “to be”,
I have to use the present simple of “to be” in my question tag.

#1 today is warm, isn’t it?
the other form negative and positive
today isn’t cold, is it?

present of other verbs. So if we have in our statement a simple present of any other verb
other than the axillary “to be”
we will use the simple present of “to do”
For example: You understand, don’t you?
and if I had negative I would say:
You don’t understand, do you?

#3 third tense: the present continuous
So if I have a present continuous,
in my tag I have to use the present of
“to be”
For example: He is listening, isn’t he?
it if I have a negative statement:
it isn’t raining, is it? (positive question tag)

#4 fourth tense: Simple past of “to be”
I have to have the simple past of “to be” in my question tag.
For example: he was here, wasn’t he?
and if I have a negative statement:
he wasn’t here, was he? (positive question tag)

#5 fifth scenario: past of any other verb
so other verbs, other than “to be”
I will have the past of “to do”
He told you, didn’t he?
He didn’t tell you, did he?
Don’t forget positive – negative
negative – positive

#6 the following scenario: the past continuous
it means that in my tag I have to have the simple past of “to be”
he was leaving (past continuous), wasn’t he?
I have my simple past of “to be”
Now negative – positive:
He wasn’t leaving, was he? (positive tag)

#7 next one: the present perfect
It has another auxiliary; it has the
auxiliary “to have”
So in our question tag we’re going to use the simple present of “to have”
Our example is: he has left, hasn’t he?
or if we want a negative and positive:
He hasn’t left, has he? (positive tag)

#8 the penultimate example: the past perfect
I will need the simple past of “to have”
in my question tag
It had rained, hadn’t it?
So the past perfect here.
Now the opposite scenario:
it’s a negative – positive
It hadn’t rained, had it?
Final scenario:

#9 future simple: I will use “will” or the
negative “won’t” or “will not”
They will return, won’t they?
now negative – positive
They won’t return, will they? (positive question tag)
So watch out: don’t forget to use pronouns.
So depending on what you have here, we’re using pronouns in most of the examples.
We can use other things such as “the
child is listening, isn’t he?” or “isn’t she?”

Punctuation: although we said that these
tags, these question tags, are used in
spoken English,
if you want to write a tag, if you want to maybe add it to a dialogue or something that you’re writing down
don’t forget to use a comma
and a question mark at the end
Very important, the punctuation.

And finally watch out for modal verbs and imperatives because they do not use the same auxiliaries, they just repeat themselves.
if I use a modal such as “must”
He must know, mustn’t he?
I’m going to use the same modal in my tag.
So that’s why it slightly different and the imperative if it’s a positive statement or a negative statement I can choose whether to use a negative or positive afterwards.

It doesn’t have to be positive – negative and negative – positive.
An example of that would be:
Don’t forget, will you?
So there I’m using a negative statement (don’t forget) and a positive question but I could also say “let’s go” which is positive and use a positive question “shall we?” Let’s go, shall we?
so be careful with the modals and imperatives.

It’s a bit more advanced so get some practice with the interactive exercises and that’s about it for today!
so thank you very much for watching and I’ll see you soon!


Grammar Quiz:


Keywords listed in English:

  • tag question or question tag
  • spoken English
  • auxiliaries or auxiliary verbs
  • modals or modal verbs
  • pronouns
  • imperative

Back to the Course Index

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *