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Tag questions (present and past)

About tag questions

Question tagTag questions turn a statement into a question.  They are often used to check the information that we think is correct.  Tag questions are mostly used in spoken English.

Characteristics of tag questions:

  • Use an auxiliary verb –  be or have
  • A subject pronoun – I, you, she
  • Contracted negative question tags – It’s cold today, isn’t it (not ‘is it not’)
  • If the main clause is positive, then the question tags are negative – It’s cold today (positive), isn’t it (negative)?
  • If the main clause is negative, then the question tags are positive – It’s not cold today (negative), is it (positive)?
  • If the main clause has an auxiliary verb, use the same verb in the tag question.  If there is no auxiliary verb, in the present simple and the past simple then use; do/does/did 
  • The exception – the question tag after I am is aren’t I

Positive sentences, with negative tags

Present simple: ‘be.’ She’s Italian, isn’t she?
Present simple other verbs They live in London, don’t they?
Present continuous We’re working tomorrow, aren’t we?
Past simple ‘be.’ It was cold yesterday, wasn’t it?
Past simple other verbs He went to the party last night, didn’t he?
Past continuous We were waiting at the station, weren’t we?
Present perfect They’ve been to Japan, haven’t they?
Present perfect continuous She’s been studying a lot recently, hasn’t she?
Past perfect He had forgotten his wallet, hadn’t he?
Past perfect continuous We’d been working, hadn’t we?
Future simple She’ll come at six, won’t she?
Future continuous They’ll be arriving soon, won’t they?
Future perfect They’ll have finished before nine, won’t they?
Future perfect continuous She’ll have been cooking all day, won’t she?
Modals He can help, can’t he?
Modals John must stay, mustn’t he?

Negative sentences, with positive tags

Present simple ‘be’ We aren’t late, are we?
Present simple other verbs She doesn’t have any children, does she?
Present continuous The bus isn’t coming, is it?
Past simple ‘be.’ She wasn’t at home yesterday, was she?
Past simple other verbs They didn’t go out last Sunday, did they?
Past continuous You weren’t sleeping, were you?
Present perfect She hasn’t eaten all the cake, has she?
Present perfect continuous He hasn’t been running in this weather, has he?
Past perfect We hadn’t been to London before, had we?
Past perfect continuous You hadn’t been sleeping, had you?
Future simple They won’t be late, will they?
Future continuous He won’t be studying tonight, will he?
Future perfect She won’t have left work before six, will she?
Future perfect continuous He won’t have been traveling all day, will he?
Modals She can’t speak Arabic, can she?
Modals They mustn’t come early, must they?

Grammar Quiz – Tag questions (present and past)

Complete these sixteen sentences to score your knowledge of tag questions

Welcome to your Tag Questions

Peter works at the new office building downtown, …?

Summary
Tag questions (Present)
Article Name
Tag questions (Present)
Description
Grammar quiz-tag questions-present.
Author
Publisher Name
English for foreigners online
Publisher Logo

Ankara is the capital city of Turkey…?

Summary
Tag questions (Present)
Article Name
Tag questions (Present)
Description
Grammar quiz-tag questions-present.
Author
Publisher Name
English for foreigners online
Publisher Logo

Sam and Peter are studying in the library, …?

Summary
Tag questions (Present)
Article Name
Tag questions (Present)
Description
Grammar quiz-tag questions-present.
Author
Publisher Name
English for foreigners online
Publisher Logo

Your pet dog doesn’t like to bite people, …?

Summary
Tag questions (Present)
Article Name
Tag questions (Present)
Description
Grammar quiz-tag questions-present.
Author
Publisher Name
English for foreigners online
Publisher Logo

You and I are late for our English class, …?

Summary
Tag questions (Present)
Article Name
Tag questions (Present)
Description
Grammar quiz-tag questions-present.
Author
Publisher Name
English for foreigners online
Publisher Logo

Your brothers don’t know how to speak Chinese, ….?

Summary
Tag questions (Present)
Article Name
Tag questions (Present)
Description
Grammar quiz-tag questions-present.
Author
Publisher Name
English for foreigners online
Publisher Logo

You never have eggs and toast for breakfast, ….?

Summary
Tag questions (Present)
Article Name
Tag questions (Present)
Description
Grammar quiz-tag questions-present.
Author
Publisher Name
English for foreigners online
Publisher Logo

Excuse me, your name isn’t Andrew, …?

Summary
Tag questions (Present)
Article Name
Tag questions (Present)
Description
Grammar quiz-tag questions-present.
Author
Publisher Name
English for foreigners online
Publisher Logo

Oh, no! I’m in the wrong classroom again, …?

Summary
Tag questions (Present)
Article Name
Tag questions (Present)
Description
Grammar quiz-tag questions-present.
Author
Publisher Name
English for foreigners online
Publisher Logo

There are about 200 countries in the world, …?

Summary
Tag questions (Present)
Article Name
Tag questions (Present)
Description
Grammar quiz-tag questions-present.
Author
Publisher Name
English for foreigners online
Publisher Logo

Today is Tuesday, …?

Summary
Tag questions (Present)
Article Name
Tag questions (Present)
Description
Grammar quiz-tag questions-present.
Author
Publisher Name
English for foreigners online
Publisher Logo

Indonesia and Vietnam are both in Asia, …?

Summary
Tag questions (Present)
Article Name
Tag questions (Present)
Description
Grammar quiz-tag questions-present.
Author
Publisher Name
English for foreigners online
Publisher Logo

Why isn’t Susan here?  She’s not sick again,…?

Summary
Tag questions (Present)
Article Name
Tag questions (Present)
Description
Grammar quiz-tag questions-present.
Author
Publisher Name
English for foreigners online
Publisher Logo

It usually rains a lot in your country, …?

Summary
Tag questions (Present)
Article Name
Tag questions (Present)
Description
Grammar quiz-tag questions-present.
Author
Publisher Name
English for foreigners online
Publisher Logo

That television costs five hundred dollars, …?

Summary
Tag questions (Present)
Article Name
Tag questions (Present)
Description
Grammar quiz-tag questions-present.
Author
Publisher Name
English for foreigners online
Publisher Logo

These questions are easy, …?

Summary
Tag questions (Present)
Article Name
Tag questions (Present)
Description
Grammar quiz-tag questions-present.
Author
Publisher Name
English for foreigners online
Publisher Logo

Conclusion

Tag questions can be very confusing for EFL students.  They contain a statement and then a question.  The question would seem to contradict the statement, because it is opposite from the question, if the question is positive, the tag question is negative and vice-versa.

Suggested Reference books on Grammar

 

Understanding and Using English Grammar by Betty Azar understandingEnglishGrammar
English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy

Summary
Tag questions (Present)
Article Name
Tag questions (Present)
Description
Grammar quiz-tag questions-present.
Author
Publisher Name
English for foreigners online
Publisher Logo

Aaron Skudder

5 Comments

  1. Loved your quiz I found it very interesting. I managed to get 12 out of 16 correct. I was a little disappointed in that I being not a foriegner would get them all correct. LOL However I was amazed that I remembered some from school as I was reading this I could almost hear my English teacher drilling it into our heads. Great job.

    • Thanks for your comments, Cathy.

      I will be publishing some ‘English teaching games’ soon.  

      regards

      Aaron

  2. Hi Aaron

    I like tag questions. For me, they are a beautiful way of speaking. It is something that we don’t usually use in French. I know that they can be tricky and I did not ace them in my TOEFL test. But I came to understand them later, I do not know if it is the rule but I understood that when the sentence was positive, the tag question should be in negative, right? and vice-versa.

    That is what I applied to score a perfect score at your test.

    Thanks

    • Hi 

      Thanks for your comments.  Yes, you are correct about the negative/positive rule.

      regards

      Aaron

  3. WOW. I did the test in the game lol and got score 13. Which means you explained very well. I am not an English speaker. This result encourages me to learn. Your web site is excellent for me. Thanks to him I hope to improve my knowledge of English. Thanks

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