We use tag questions to make statements and seek agreement from the listener. We form tag question from simple declarative sentences.
- We lost the game, didn't we?
- John went to school, didn't he?
- Jack and Jill didn't go up the hill, did they?
- He is a giant, isn't he?
- She can't swim, can she?
We form tag questions from negative sentences by copying the auxiliary verb used in the sentence to the sentence end in the positive form. Next we use the pronoun form of the subject of the sentence at the very end of the sentence.
- John can't play tennis, can he?
- Mary won't go with us, will she?
- Jack and Jill aren't climbing hills anymore, are they?
- Jane did not eat her vegetables, did she?
- You and I aren't going on a date, are we?
We form tag questions from positive sentences by copying the auxiliary verb used in the sentence to the sentence end in the negative form. Next we use the pronoun form of the subject of the sentence at the very end of the sentence.
- We are going to win, aren't we?
- John can dance very well, can't he?
- Mary will be here, won't she?
Sentences without Auxiliary Verbs
If there is no auxiliary verb, we use the appropriate tense form of DO in the negative form.
- Jack and Jill brought us some water, didn't they?
- Jane likes vegetables, doesn't she?
To Contract or not To Contract
Optionally, we can choose not to contract the auxiliary verb with NOT. The order of the words in a non-contracted tag is 1st the auxiliary verb followed by the subject pronoun and finally NOT.
- We are going to win, are we not?
- John can dance very well, can he not?
- Jack and Jill brought us some water, did they not?
- Jane likes vegetables, does she not?
- Mary will be here, will she not?
Non-contracted tags are a little unusual in American English. While the non-contracted tags are grammatically correct, generally in everyday conversation we do contract the auxiliary verb with NOT in the tag question. When we do not contract the auxiliary verb with NOT in a tag question in normal conversation, it comes across as unusually formal and a bit odd.
Test your knowledge
Directions: Choose the best answer to fill in the blank. (10 problems)
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