Question Tags & Answer Tags: Meaning, Examples and Rules of Tags

What is a Question Tag?

A question tag is a type of question often found at the end of a statement. It is used to change a statement or sentence to a question when it is added. Question tag is a common device in conversation which is aimed at making a statement and at once ask the listener to confirm it.

Before mentioning the rules guiding the use of question tags, it is important to differentiate between a positive statement or sentence and a negative statement or sentence. A positive statement or affirmative sentence is a statement or sentence without, ‘no, ‘not or ‘never in its verb elements.

Question Tags & Answer Tags: Meaning, Examples and Rules of Tags 1

Examples:

(a) He is early this morning.
(b) She is hungry.
(c) You can swim very well.’

A negative statement or sentence is one which has, ‘no’, ‘not or ‘never in its verb elements.

Examples:
(a) He isn’t early this morning.
(b) She isn’t hungry
(c) You can’t swim very well.

Question tag is also known as conversation question. There are rules guiding use of question tags which are:

Rules For Using Question Tags

There are 7 major rules guiding the use of question tags. See them below as well as their examples.

1) Positive statements attract negative question tags (i.e., question tags With ‘not’.)

Examples:

(a) He is early this morning, isn’t it?
(b) You can swim very well, can ‘t you?

2) Negative statements attract positive question tags (1.e., question tags without ‘not’)

Examples:
(a) He isn’t early this morning, is he
(b) You can’t swim very well, can you?

3. The auxiliaries or helping verbs repeat themselves in the tag

Examples:
(a) He has finished the work, hasn’t he? e fr
(6) She will sing on Sunday, won T she

4. Other verbs (main or lexical ) use do in the tag

Examples:
(a) Joseph called you yesterday, didn’t he?
(b) Mary and Yetunde always sing a song, don’t they?

5. The subject in the tag is always a pronoun and a reflection of the subject in the statement or sentence of which it was added.

Examples:
(a) Kunle always smokes cigarette, doesn’t he?
(b) You don’t care for your mother, do you’?

6. The positive forms ‘need and ‘dare are rarely used in the affirmative with question tags, but when so used, they are treated as full or main verb.

Examples:
(a) You need to come earlier, don’t you?
(b) We need to ask him, don ‘t we?

7. ‘I am’, usually has the tag, “aren’t? and,” used to , has a question tag with, “did”

Examples:
(a) 1 am your friend, aren’t I ?
(b) She used to take care of the poultry, didn’t she’?

Question Tag: Exercise I

Add question tags to the following statements.
1. The president has done very well,……………..?
2. Lagos isn’t a clean city, ………………..?
5. Taiwo should rise to the occasion, …………?
4. He will have to work very hard, ………………..?
5. Students who are lazy don’t pass, …………?
6. Tunde had to move out of the house, ……………?
7. He has to write to his father to explain,…………?
8. The teacher won’t write on the board, …..?

Question-tag: Exercise II

From the options lettered A-D, choose the one that best completes each
the following sentences.
1. Mr. Smith had worked here before leaving for the U.K………….?
a) Isn’t it. b) wasn’t it. c) didn’t he. d) hadn’t he
2. After spending all her money on cosmetics, Amina shouldn’t complain of hunger, …,……?
A. shall she B. won’t she C. isn’t it D. should she
3. He has stopped drinking,…….?
A) isn’t it. B) hasn’t he C) doesn’t he. D) Did he?
4. It is high time we left for home,….?
A) isn’t it B) wasn’t it C. shouldn’t we D. does it
5. We should not yield to his pressure,…?
A. won’t we B. shall we C. shan’t we D. should we
6. Our captain is not a very reliable person, ……………..?
A. Is he? B) isn’t it C. does he D. don’t they
7. The town boy is much cleverer than that village boy, ……………?
A. isn’t it B. isn’t so C. doesn’t he D. isn’t he
8 We should not have panicked at the sight of the snake,………….?
A. couldn’t B. did we C. didn’t we D. should we
9 You told me the man insulted you. …………?
A. do you B. didn’t he C. did he D. didn’t you
10. Mary shouldn’t have disobeyed the teacher, …………….?
A. should she B. didn’t she C. did she D. couldn’t she
11. The president promised a new deal for workers last year,…………….?
A) Wasn’t it B. isn’t it C. didn’t he D. doesn’t he
12. There haven’t been any more robberies, …………..?
A. is it B. have there. C. were there D. have they
13. You are not sure where you placed the book, ……..?
A. isn’t it B. weren’t we C. are you D. didn’t you.
14. She doesn’t know you like your food hot,………………….?
A. does she B. shouldn’t she C. didn’t she D. wasn’t it
15. It is certain we shall travel by train, …….? A. shan’t we B. shall we
C. don’t we D. isn’t it
16. They arrived yesterday,…..?
A. aren’t they B. weren’t they C. hadn’t they D. didn’t they
17. He wasn’t to speak to me, ……………….?
A. wasn’t he B. was he C. isn’t it true D. is it true
18. He wouldn’t dare disobey orders,……?
A. dare he B. would he C. does he D. will he
19. He needn’t start yet, ………………. he?
A. need B. should C. could D. won’t
20. His hitting you could have been avoided,……………….?
A. was it B. isn’t it C. couldn’t it D. can it

Answer-Tag

Answer-tag is a type of answer added to a ‘yes or a ‘no’ answer. It is also used in conversation to show agreement with one s hearer.
Examples:
(1) You are a Nigerian, aren’t you? Yes, I am.
2) He’s not from Nigeria, is he? No, he isn’t.

The rules guiding the use of answer-tags are:

1. Positive answers (i.e, yes) always attract positive answer-tags (1.e. tags without not in their verb elements).
Examples:
(a) This is Lagos, isn’t it? Yes, it is.
(b) Segun is from Ogun State, isn’t he? Yes, he is.

2. Negative answers (i.e., no or never) always attract negative answer-tags i.e., tags with ‘not’ or ‘no’ in their verb elements).

Examples;
(a) You’re not from Ghana, are you? No, l’m not.
(b) They are building a new factory here, aren’t they? No, they aren’t

Hence, it is wrong in English language to say Yes, I’m not, or No, I’m.

Exercise
Write answer-tags for the following questions.
1) This assignment is easy, 1sn t it?………………….
2) Funke plays records at home, doesn’t she’?…………….
3) Lola likes music, doesn’t she? ……
4) We are going to have our biggest soon aren’t we?
5) Abuja is an expensive city, isn’t it? ………………….
6) The house has a beautiful garden, hasn’t it? ……………….
7) The arrived yesterday, didn’t they? ………………..
8) We must answer the letter, musn’t we? ……………….
9) You shouldn’t smoke here, should you? ………………
10) They ought not to be here, do they?……………..
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