I played squash on Tuesday. I did not play on Thursday. Did you play this week?
I went to the cinema instead. Fifty years ago people didn’t play Squash. It is a relatively new game.
You’re right. What film did you see? I went to Croydon and looked at what was on.
I was looking at the publicity when I saw something I liked. I was watching a film when you were playing squash.
I used to always play squash on Thursdays but since I started the Agency I have not got the energy.
I never used to like the cinema. I didn’t use to like the smoke. It is better now that they have banned smoking in public places.
Did you use to smoke? It never appealed to me. I was lucky, I hear that it is usually very difficult to stop.
I remember when I caught my little brother smoking and I told him that he was being stupid.
He used to be irresponsible. Now he is quite the opposite.
The phone rang while I was talking to you. I will see who it was and I will phone them up.
I usually answer straight away.
What is a question tag?
Question tags or Tag Questions are the short questions that we place at the end of sentences – common in spoken English. There are lots of different question tags “forms”. Let’s learn the rules!
When the first and main part of the sentence is affirmative / positive, the Question tag is negative
And if the first and main part of your sentence is negative, the question tag pr tag question is positive.
What verb to use to create my Question tag?
With auxiliary verbs
The question tag uses the same verb as the main part of the sentence. If this is an auxiliary verb (‘have’, ‘be’) then the question tag is made with the auxiliary verb.
They have visited Paris, haven’t they?
We weren’t aware of this, were we?
This is not bad, is it?
They had arrived, hadn’t they?
Without auxiliary verbs
If the first / main part of your sentence doesn’t have an auxiliary verb, the question tag uses a particular form of ‘do’ (did, do, does) (present, past… first, second of third person, singular or plural)
I moved to Spain then, didn’t I?
He doesn’t remember, does he?
They travel a lot, don’t they?
We left early, didn’t we?
With modal verbs (can, will, must..)
If you have a modal verb
in the first / main part of your sentence,
the question tag
uses the same modal verb
(can, will, must..).
They must leave early, mustn’t they?
She couldn’t understand me, could she?
They won’t go by car, will they?
He may leave, may he not?
With ‘I am’
Do be careful with question tags in sentences that start with ‘I am’. The question tag for ‘I am’ is ‘aren’t I?’
Question tags are very common in spoken English. Be careful when writing them: they must start with a comma “,” and end with a question mark “?”.
Question tags are very useful:
– to ask specific questions
– to ask for agreement when we already know the answer
In some cases question tags require our tone of voice to rise. This is called rising intonation and is used for questions.
When the question tag is only there to highlight a statement, the intonation can fall, unlike with a real question.
So pay attention to the context.
When question tags
ask a specific question
they require our tone of voice to rise.
This is called rising intonation.
You were there, weren’t you?
When question tags
ask for agreement,
the intonation can fall
unlike with a real question.
You agree, don’t you?
Did you play squash on Tuesday?
Yes I played squash on Tuesday.
When did you go to the cinema?
I went to the cinema on Friday.
What film did you see?
I saw the new film with George Cloudy.
Did you use to smoke?
No, I never used to smoke.
Did it not appeal to you?
No, why would it?
What’s that the phone ringing?
I thought I heard it ring.
How long do you take to answer usually?
Usually, I answer straight away.
Did you thank her for the present?
Yes, I thanked her very much.
Do you think you were lucky?
I thought I was very lucky.
Is squash an old game?
No, I don’t think it is.