Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dear readers.

A question tag ,as you know , is a short question attached to a statement . The purpose of the question tag is (1) to get the listener's concurrence or (2) to elicit the answer yes or no from him .


1. English is a world language, isn't it?

If "isn't it" has a falling intonation ,the speaker expects the listener to agree with him and the listener need not say yes or no . !

2 He is an honest man. isn't he?

If "isn't he " has a rising intonation ,the speaker expects the listener to say yes or no .

There is no end to the trouble that question tags cause to the non-native learners of English .The crux of the problem is that question tag is a set phrase in most languages like n'est-ce pas ? in French .The English question tag is like the chameleon!

I am giving below a few question tag rules

1 )If the statement is positive the tag is negative , and vice-versa .

He is a good boy isn't he?

He is not a clever boy , is he ?

Remember, words like never , hardly, scarcely, seldom etc can make a statement negative .

2) The subject of the tag is always a pronoun If words like everyone nobody no-one etc are used as subjects in the statements . their pronoun is "they" and the verb agrees with it

Everyone makes mistakes , don't they?

3) the structure of the tag is operator +pronoun If the statement has no auxiliary as in the case of simple present and past tenses, the operator is the dummy auxiliary do, does or did

He went to school, didn't he ?

She plays tennis, doesn't she?

4)The tense of the tag should be the same as the tense of the statement .

He will go tomorrow, won't he?

She left yesterday , didn't she ?

He sings well, doesn't he?

What is the tag to the statement "I am a teacher" ?The correct answer is Aren't I " " It is because"am't" is non-standard!

Enough for question-tags .I will continue the discussion in my next post

Thank you for visiting ! !

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