7 Basic Rules of Question Tags (EXPLAINED)

Do you struggle with question tags in English and would like to know the basic rules of the topic?

In this lesson,

You will see and learn the basic rules of question tags and how to correctly answer questions on this English topic.


ALSO SEE: Complex Rules Of Question Tags In English


Take note.

Question tags are those short questions that are attached to the end of statements or sentences.

  • Musa and Chinedu are best friends, aren’t they?

The short question “aren’t they?” is the “tag” and it always consists of a Verb and a Pronoun.

Let’s see the rules.

Basic rules of question tags

These are the basics.

There are some other complex rules of question tags but most English questions will often test you on the basics alone.

Auxiliary verb

Auxiliary verbs include: is, are, will, must, should, would, can, could, do, did, does, etc.

When there is an auxiliary verb in the question, create your tag with that auxiliary verb and using the positive – negative rule below.

1. Positive – Negative

When the auxiliary verb is POSITIVE.

  • Muyiwa is brilliant, _____ he?

The tag will be NEGATIVE.

  • Muyiwa is brilliant, isn’t he?

2. Negative – Positive

When the auxiliary verb is NEGATIVE.

  • Muyiwa is not brilliant, _____ he?

The tag will be POSITIVE.

  • Muyiwa is not brilliant, is he?

No auxiliary verb

When there is NO auxiliary verb in the question, use the main Verb.

And since a Verb is a “doing” word, create your tag with the forms of “DO” depending of the rules below.

3. Use “DO” when the verb is plural

For example.

  • They write beautifully, _____ they?

The verb “WRITE” is in its plural form because the subject “THEY” is plural, so create your tag with “DO” while also following the positive/negative rule.

  • They write beautifully, don’t they?

4. Use “DOES” when the verb is singular

For example.

  • She writes beautifully, ______ she?

The verb “WRITES” is in its singular form because the subject “SHE” is singular, so create your tag with “DOES” while also following the positive/negative rule.

  • She writes beautifully, doesn’t she?

5. Use “DID” when the verb is in past tense

Whether the verb is singular or plural, this rule should apply.

For example.

  • They wrote beautifully, ____ they?
  • She wrote beautifully, _____ she?

The subject “THEY” is plural while “SHE” is singular but your tag will still be created with “DID” for both of them because their verbs “WROTE” is in past tense.

  • They wrote beautifully, didn’t they?
  • She wrote beautifully, didn’t she?

Choosing a response

When you are asked to respond to a question tag, use the positive – negative – positive format.

6. Positive – Negative – Positive

  • They write beautifully. (POSITIVE)
  • Don’t they? (NEGATIVE)
  • Yes, they do. (POSITIVE)

7. Negative – Positive – Negative

  • Muyiwa is not brilliant. (NEGATIVE)
  • Is he? (POSITIVE)
  • No, he isn’t. (NEGATIVE)

Test yourself

Click on the link below to practice past questions on question tags now.

GOOD LUCK.

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