Question tags

دوره: گرامر انگلیسی در شش دقیقه / درس 27

گرامر انگلیسی در شش دقیقه

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Question tags

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Catherines chocolate has gone missing! She thinks Finn ate it, so she asks him this, Finn, you didnt eat all the chocolate, did you?

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Catherine Hello. Welcome to 6 Minute Grammar with me, Catherine.

Finn And me, Finn. Hello.

Catherine Today’s programme is about question tags, isn’t it Finn?

Finn Yes, it is Catherine. And, a question tag - also known as a tag question - is a short yes/no question that we put at the end of a statement. Here’s an example. Catherine, you live near the station, don’t you?

Catherine I live very near the station, Finn. It’s about five minutes from my house. The question tag Finn used was don’t you ? Finn thinks he knows where I live, but he wants to check. He checks by saying a statement, then adding a short question at the end. Here’s Neil with some more examples.

Neil Mike’s working from home today, isn’t he? The kids haven’t forgotten to do their homework, have they?

Finn Now, forming question tags can be a little tricky, so here are some useful tips:

Catherine Tip number one: when the statement is positive, the question tag is negative. The statement You live near the station is positive…

Finn So we add a negative question tag: don’t you.

Catherine Tip two: When the statement is negative, the question tag is positive. Here’s a negative statement: You didn’t eat all the chocolate …

Finn … with a positive question tag: did you?

Catherine Actually Finn, talking about chocolate… I left some chocolate her, before. You haven’t seen it, have you?

Finn Chocolate, no.

Catherine Are you sure?

Finn No - I think you had it with your coffee, didn’t you?

Catherine Hmm. I’m not sure I did, actually. Anyway, moving on. Tip three. Question tags aren’t complete questions: a question tag has just an auxiliary verb and a subject. There isn’t a main verb in a question tag. For example, question tags are: are you… did they…

Finn … don’t you… isn’t he…

Catherine And so on. Now for tip four: the auxiliary verb can be positive or negative. Here’s Neil.

Neil You’re lying, aren’t you? …

Catherine We have a positive auxiliary verb - are - in the statement …

Finn … so we make it negative - aren’t - in the question tag.

Catherine A negative auxiliary verb in the statement becomes positive in the tag. Neil.

Neil You aren’t lying, are you?

Catherine Thank you. Tip five. If there isn’t an auxiliary verb in the statement, use the auxiliary verb do in the question tag. Here are some examples:

Neil They always go by bus, don’t they? You ate my chocolate, didn’t you?

Catherine Don’t remind me of chocolate.

Finn I’m not guilty!

Catherine So that’s auxiliary verbs in question tags. Our next question tags tip is that the subject and tense of the question tag and statement are always the same. So when I say: Finn, you didn’t eat my chocolate, did you? The subject is you in the statement and question tag.

Finn And the tense is past simple in both.

IDENT You’re listening to BBC Learning English.

Finn We’re talking about question tags…

Catherine … and the mystery of my missing chocolate, Finn!

Finn Ooh, well! Before that, a word about speaking. Question tags are used mostly in spoken English. We don’t use them much in writing. And there are two main reasons to use them in speaking.

Catherine First, use question tags to get someone to confirm something that we think we already know. For example, Finn… I definitely saw you eating something earlier… You were eating my chocolate, weren’t you!?

Finn Well…

Catherine Weren’t you?!

Finn Well, yes I was! Catherine, I’ll get you some more, I’m sorry. I promise. It’s not easy to resist chocolate, is it?

Catherine Clearly. Clearly not!

Finn And if you were listening carefully, you probably noticed that Catherine’s voice went down, from high to low, when she said the question tag.

Catherine You were eating my chocolate, weren’t you!? …weren’t you!?

Finn And that falling intonation means that Catherine thinks that what she is saying is correct. She wants me to confirm it. Or just make conversation. But when someone uses rising intonation in a question tag - when the voice goes up - they are asking a real question - they want to find out if the statement is really true. For example, you could say:

Neil There isn’t any meat in the soup, is there? You do serve vegetarian food, don’t you? I can order a plain omelette, can’t I?

Catherine And now it’s quiz time. I’m going to say three statements and you have to add the question tags. Number one: It’s your birthday tomorrow…

Finn …isn’t it?

Catherine Good, number two: Kumar won’t be late…

Finn …will he?

Catherine Question three: You’re going to get that chocolate now…?

Finn …aren’t you? Ok Catherine, I get the hint.

Catherine Well done if you got all those right.

Finn There’s more about this on our website at Join us again for more 6 Minute Grammar.

Both Bye.

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