QUESTION TAGS

QUESTIONS TAGS - BUSINESS ENGLISH IN ALICANTE - AMENGLISH

DON’T SAY ¿NO? – USE QUESTIONS TAGS

If you’d like to stop confusing English speakers, learn to use Question Tags.

This is by far one of the most common errors among Spanish students.

In Spanish, when you want confirmation or we are asking for information we tend to introduce a ‘¿no?’ at the end of what we are saying (La reunion es a las 14.00, ¿no?). For those English speakers that have had quite a lot of contact with our culture it is just a Spanish characteristic way of speaking. However, for many others this is utterly (totally) confusing, as they do not get to understand if we are negating what we just said or what is it that we are trying to say with that ¿no?

QUESTION TAGS TO CONFIRM OR ASK FOR INFORMATION

In English the equivalent of the Spanish ¿no? are Question Tags. What are they? They are short questions we add at the end of a statement to either confirm of ask for information.

I’ll give you a couple of examples:

  • She lives in London, doesn’t she? Ella vive en Londres ¿no?
  • They won’t go to the conference, will they?No van a ir a la conferecia ¿no? (o ¿verdad?)

 

HOW TO FORM QUESTION TAGS

1. Affirmative or negative?

The first rule is that if the statement (sentence) is in affirmative, the question tag will be negative. If the statement is negative, the question tag will be affirmative.

  • She liked it a lot (affirmative), didn’t she? (negative)
  • You couldn’t do it (negative), could you? (affirmative)

 

2. Use the auxiliary verb in question tags

The question tag itself is formed with the auxiliary of the verbal tense in the statement, followed by the same personal pronoun:

  • We went to Scotland in March (went is Past Simple, its auxiliary verb is did), didn’t we? (we use did because the original sentence is in the Past Simple, and we use the negative, didn’t, because the original sentence is affirmative)

 

  • María isn’t working at the moment (isn’t working is Present Continuous, its auxiliary for the third person (María) is ‘is’), is she? (we use ‘is’ in affirmative because the original sentence is negative, and we use ‘she’ because you only use personal pronouns in Question Tags, you don’t use people’s names, and the personal pronoun for María isshe’)

 

3. The verb TO BE

Remember that the verb To Be is its own auxiliary verb (su propio auxiliar: am, is, are), so when forming Question Tags we will use the verb To Be itself (el propio verbo To Be), applying the same rules regarding affirmative and negative.

  • They are from Ireland, aren’t they?
  • She isn’t American, is she?
  • This is coffee, isn’t it? (this and that = it; these and those = they)
  • The car is red, isn’t it? (we use ‘it’ for things in singular, for example, car or house and ‘they’ for things in plural, for example, cars or houses).

 

4. Modal verbs in question tags

The rules are exactly the same for modal verbs (can, could, would, will, should, would etc.). A modal verb takes the place of an auxiliary verb, and therefore you need to use the modal verb itself (el propio verbo modal) in the question tag:

  • They should be here soon, shouldn’t they? (here we use the modal verb of the original sentence in negative, since the original is in affirmative)

 

  • Andrew and Tom couldn’t come, could they? (once again, we use the same modal verb, but this time in negative as the statement is affirmative. We use ‘they’ because it is the personal pronoun for ‘Andrew and Tom)

 

5. More examples of Question Tags

Let’s look at some other examples to make sure you have understood:

  • I didn’t have to come, did I?
  • We will be there by 9pm, won’t we?
  • James wouldn’t do that, would he?
  • She is not English, is she?
  • You haven’t met before, have you?

 


6. Now you try! (exercise)

Complete these sentences with their question tags:

  • They came yesterday….
  • She won’t be late….
  • We didn’t want to go…
  • That isn’t milk…
  • He doesn’t like vegetables…
  • They haven’t been to Paris…
  • Anna shouldn’t have gone to the meeting…
  • I can’t finish it…

 

7. Answers to the exercise

Now look at the answers and find out if you have understood Question Tags

  1. They came yesterday, didn’t they?
  2. She won’t be late, will she?
  3. We didn’t want to go, did we?
  4. That isn’t milk, is it?
  5. He doesn’t like vegetables, does he?
  6. They haven’t been to Paris, have they?
  7. Anna shouldn’t have gone to the meeting, should she?
  8. I can’t finish it, can I?

I hope this post will help you understand how to form and use question tags. They are very important as they are as commonly used as our Spanish ¿no?

If you have any doubts do not hesitate to ask by commenting further down the page. I will be happy to answer any queries.

Happy learning!


LEARN MORE!

You will find many useful posts for you to learn and advance. 

Check these ones out, for example!

20 Useful Colloquial Expressions in English

Talking about advantages and disadvantages in English

12 Sentences to interrupt politely in English

 

https://www.pinterest.es/amenglishalicante/ Estamos en Pinterest!

? Te invito, además a visitar mi página de LinkenIn , en la que casi a diario subo muchos recursos y comparto cosas interesantes como infografías y vocabulario y expresiones para que hables de forma más natural.

Si te gusta lo que lees, te aseguro que te encantarán mis clases con las que potenciarás tanto tu perfil internacional de negocios como el de tu empresa. Infórmate aquí sobre todos los cursos ➡ CURSOS AMEnglish

* indicates required

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments