We use question tags to make a statement or argument sound polite by asking a question. We often use question tags at the end of a sentence to confirm if something is true, or to ask for another person's response in a conversation. To form a question tag, we can combine some modal verbs or auxiliary verbs with the subject that the verb is referring to.
1. She is a doctor, isn't she?
2. Yesterday was so much fun, wasn't it?
3. She is not here, is she?
4. I don't need to complete this work today, do I?
5. Suresh is working on that project, isn't he?
6. Your parents have retired from their jobs, haven't they?
7. The mobile phone didn't ring, did it?
8. It was hot that day, wasn't it?
9. Your sister hadn't met him before, had she?
10. Sushmitha can speak English, can't she?
Some rules to follow for the formation of Question tags:
Rule 1: Always form the question tag as per the main part of the sentence.
E.g.: ‘I think she is beautiful, isn’t she?’
We have 2 parts here to form a question tag here.
i. I think, and
ii. she is.
Here, the phrase ‘she is’ is the main part of the sentence. So, we use question for that phrase (isn’t she).
Rule 2: In question tags, collective noun takes a singular verb and singular pronoun.
i. The jury has given its verdict, hasn't it?
ii. The class hasn’t selected its leader, has it?
iii. Our cricket team has played very well, hasn't it?
Note: If the collective noun is not treated as one unit in a statement, we use plural verb and plural pronoun in the question tag.
E.g.: The team have to arrange money for their own expenses, haven't they?
Rule 3: In question tags, singular pronouns such as each, every, everyone, everybody, noone, nobody, none will take plural verb and plural pronoun.
i. Everyone has come, haven't they (correct)
ii. Everyone has come, hasn't he? (Incorrect)
iii. None of your friends like her, do they? (correct)
Rule 4: Some words such as hardly, seldom, scarcely, barely, carry negative meaning. So, we use positive question tags for those words.
i. He hardly does any work, does he?
ii. I found barely anything to eat, did I?
iii. They seldom come, do they?
iv. He is never available, is he?
v. She scarcely remembers to feed the dog, does she?
Rule 5: For sentences having modal auxiliaries such as can, could, will, would, may, might, must, shall, should, ought to, need, would rather, had better, dare, the question tags will be shall not, will not, won't, can't etc. depending on whether positive or negative tag is needed for the sentence.
i. Everybody should wear a seat belt while driving, shouldn't they?
ii. A healthy body can achieve the impossible, can't it?
iii. Water animals can breathe under water, can't they?
iv. A student should be regular in studies, shouldn't he?
v. Everybody cannot drive, can they?
Rule 6: For an affirmative imperative sentence, we use “will you” or “won't you” in the question tag.
i. Be assured of all co-operation, will you?
ii. Switch on the cooler, will you?
iii. Please give me the documents, won’t you?
iv. Kindly take a seat, will you?
Note: For a negative Imperative sentence, we use “will you” as the question tag.
i. Don't touch the wire, will you?
ii. Don't litter here, will you?
iii. Don't make a noise in the class, will you?
Note: In case of imperative sentences beginning with the words ‘let us’, indicating a suggestion or proposal, we use “shall we” as the question tag.
i. Let us go for a movie, shall we?
ii. Let us help her to complete the work, shall we?
iii. Let us go to meet her, shall we?
Note: If an Imperative sentence begins with ‘let’, but not followed by ‘us’, we use “will you” as the question tag.
i. Let him go, will you?
ii. Let them do their homework, will you?
Note: If an imperative sentence contains the words such as nothing, anything, everything, something as the subject, the question tag will
end with “it” along with its corresponding verb.
i. Everything has gone bad today, hasn't it?
ii. Everything is clear, isn't it?
iii. Nothing can revive this worse situation, can it?
Rule 7: In case of exclamatory sentences, the question tag used should be auxiliary verbs.
i. How beautiful the garden is! Isn't it?
ii. How big the slide is! Isn't it?
iii. How nicely the bird sings! Isn't it?
Rule 8: The words such as moon, earth, river, motherland, country, ship, train are treated as feminine gender. So, we use pronoun ‘she’ in the question tags. We can also use the pronoun ‘it’ sometimes as per usage.
i. The Titanic was thought to be unsinkable, wasn't she?
ii. India has never attacked any country, has she?
Rule 9: We cannot use “am not” as a question tag for ‘am’. We use “aren’t” as a question tag for “am”.
i. I am a little late today, aren't I?
ii. I am confident, aren't I?
Note: We can use the question tag “am I”, if the sentence starts with “I am not”.
i. I am not late today, Am I?
ii. I am not a bad boy, Am I?
Rule 10: If a sentence starts with the words such as there, one, this, that, these, those etc. then the pronoun for the question tag used should be there, one, this, that, these, those etc. respectively.
i. There is a book on the table, Isn't there?
ii. One cannot find a solution to this problem, Can one?
iii. That is my book, isn’t that?