A Question Tags (or Tag Question) is a special construction in English. It is a statement followed by a brief question.
Consider the following examples:
He is coming tonight, isn’t he?
You wouldn’t report me, would you?
You don’t like me, do you?
Now, look at the last part of all the above sentences preceded by the comma. These are very small questions added to the sentence and are called question Tags.
Remember only the question tag is a question and not the entire sentence. So, one can say that a Question Tag is an added brief question to a statement.
How to form question tags?
Usually, a question tag consists of two words- an auxiliary verb in the positive or negative form (for example: be or have) and a pronoun (for example: I, you, she).
Three things are to be kept in mind while making a question tag:
The right auxiliary verb to be used in the question.
The right pronouns to be used in the tag.
Whether the verb in the question tag should be positive or negative
Both (1) and (2) should be in agreement with the verb and noun in the main statement.
Rules to form Question Tags with Examples
1. If the main statement is positive, the auxiliary verb will be negative and vice versa.
He saw that, didn’t he? (positive statement and negative tag)
But he isn’t going to England, is he? (negative statement and positive tag)
2. If there is a single subject/noun/pronoun in the main sentence, the corresponding pronoun/same pronoun will be used in the Question Tag.
You are coming with us, aren’t you?
Reena is leaving tonight, isn’t she?
3. If there are more than one noun/pronoun in the main sentence then the corresponding pronoun to the active subject will be used in the Question Tag.
After all this time you’d think he’d had forgotten, wouldn’t you?
You wouldn’t refuse me, would you?
4. If the verb in the main sentence is an active verb without any auxiliary verb, then the verb used in the Question Tag will be the form of verb ‘do’ that corresponds with the tense in the main sentence.
He knows it’s true, doesn’t he?
You wanted to come with me, didn’t you?
I told you so, didn’t I?
She never informed us, did she?
5. If the main sentence has an auxiliary verb then it is used in the question tag, but with opposite affirmation, i.e., a positive auxiliary in the main sentence transforms to a negative auxiliary in the question tag and vice versa.
He will be coming, won’t he?
You were there at the party, weren’t you?
You would appear for this exam, wouldn’t you?
He didn’t call us, did he?
She doesn’t live here anymore, does she?
Question Tags According to Tense
Present simple ‘be’
Monika is from Spain, isn’t she? They aren’t funny, are they?
Present simple other verbs
You play the guitar, don’t you?
Monty doesn’t like tennis, does he?
You are coming to my party, aren’t you? The bus isn’t coming, is it?
Past simple ‘be’
It was cold yesterday, wasn’t it? She wasn’t at home yesterday, was she?
Past simple other verbs
They went to the cinema, didn’t they? She didn’t study in the USA, did she?
We were waiting at the station, weren’t we? You weren’t sleeping, were you?
We have finished, haven’t we? You haven’t done your homework, have you?
Present perfect continuous
I have been answering, haven’t I? He hasn’t been running in this weather, has he?
He had forgotten his wallet, hadn’t he? We hadn’t been to Mumbai before, had we?
Past perfect continuous
We had been working, hadn’t we? You hadn’t been sleeping, had you?
She will come at six, won’t she? You won’t tell him my secret, will you?
They will be arriving soon, won’t they? He won’t be studying tonight, will he?
They will have finished before nine, won’t they? She won’t have left work before six, will she?
Future perfect continuous
She will have been cooking all day, won’t she? He won’t have been travelling all day, will he?
Andy can speak English, can’t he? I can never do it right, can I?
We must go, mustn’t we? We mustn’t tell her, must we?
He should try harder, shouldn’t he? He shouldn’t say things like that, should he?