Grammar | Question Tags

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What is this episode about?

Learn when and how to use question tags in English in this new Grammar episode from English Plus Podcast.

Forever Free Is A Donation Away

Show Notes

Welcome to a new episode from English plus podcast today. It’s about grammar and we will talk about question tags. Now, question tags are not that difficult to understand, but they might be tricky and a little bit confusing at times. So after this episode, I hope you will not be confused at all when you want to use question tax.

[00:00:27] So first let’s study this example. You haven’t seen Lisa today, have you? No, I haven’t. So you look at the question, this person didn’t ask right away. Didn’t go for, have you seen Lisa today? Which is okay. Of course. You can go ahead and ask the question. Have you seen Lisa today? Yes, I have. No I haven’t. But here, this person started with a sentence.

[00:00:51] You haven’t seen Lisa today. Have you. That is the question. Now you mentioned the sentence that you want, and then you want a confirmation on the sentence. That is when we use question texts. Let me give you another example. It was a good film. Wasn’t it? It was a good film. I’m not asking a direct question.

[00:01:10] I’m not saying, was it a good film? I’m saying it was a good film, wasn’t it? And the other person can say, yes, it was great. No, it was awful. It doesn’t matter what you answer. It is the same, like asking a question, but it’s a little bit different and we will see later in this episode that if we change our tone of voice, the meaning can change a little bit.

[00:01:32] So this is a little bit more flexible than asking direct questions, but first things first, how do we use them? What is the rule? Do we have any rules? Of course we do. Now here in the two examples I gave you earlier, have you, and wasn’t it, our question tax. These are many questions that you can put on the end of a sentence.

[00:01:51] So, first of all, we know that we should put the question to exit the end of the sentence, not at the beginning or in the middle. And in question tags, we use auxiliary verb, like have, was will et cetera. Now we also use do, does or did for the present and past simple. And that can be a little bit tricky because here, when you say you haven’t seen Lisa lately, we already have the auxiliary verb, which is haven’t seen.

[00:02:18] And then I can use half it’s obvious or in the second one it’s verb to be, it was a good film, wasn’t it? But when we don’t have auxiliary verbs and that’s the case for the present simple and the past simple India affirmative form, like when we say Karen plays the piano, Now here I can say play not, she doesn’t make any sense.

[00:02:39] Right? We should say Karen plays the piano. Doesn’t she? Well, yes, but not very well. That’s a sample answer or you didn’t lock the door. Did you? Now here you can see it’s easier if we use it in negative because we already have the auxiliary and it’s easy for us to figure out what auxiliary to use, because remember it’s very important.

[00:02:59] You always need an auxiliary verb in question tags. Now, as you noticed, when we used a positive sentence, we used a negative tag. And when we use a negative sentence, we use a positive tag. So it’s just the opposite. Or usually normally we use a negative question tag after a positive sentence and a positive question tag.

[00:03:20] After a negative sentence, let’s take a look at these examples and see how this works. Kate will be here soon. We’ll be here soon. That’s affirmative. So I should use the tag in negative and I need an auxiliary verb. The auxiliary obviously is, will. So I say won’t cheat. We don’t say will not cheat. We say won’t cheat.

[00:03:40] There was a lot of traffic wasn’t there. We already have verb to be so we can use verb to be in the tag, but in negative, the sentence was affirmative. Then we use the tag in negative. That’s why we use the tag negative. Or we can say, Joe should pass the exam. We have should here. It can be used as an auxiliary.

[00:04:01] It’s a model actually, but the same idea applies. So here we use should, but not in affirmative. We don’t say, should he. Because the sentence is already in affirmative. We should have the tech in the opposite in the negative. So we say, shouldn’t he now? What about if we have the sentence in negative? What do we do?

[00:04:21] We put a positive tag. If we say, for example, Kate, won’t be late. Will she? Will she not won’t she, because we already use the negative in the sentence. The tag is the opposite gate. Won’t be late. Will she? Or they don’t like us. Do they? Or you haven’t eaten yet? Have you? So with that out of the way, let’s talk about the answer.

[00:04:44] Now. Usually the answer is yes or no, but here you have to be careful. If I say, for example, you’re not going out this morning, are you now we know that. Verb to be. And the sentence in negative, the tag in positive. Are you? That’s fine. We’ve learned about that so far, but what does it mean if I say yes, just yes or no might be obvious, but sometimes it can be a little bit confusing.

[00:05:07] Now when you say you’re not going out this morning, are you, if you say yes, what does that mean? You’re not going out. No. If you say yes, that means, yes, I am going out. If you say no, that means no, I’m not going out. So it is not just to negate the sentence it’s to negate the action itself. You’re not going out this morning.

[00:05:28] Are you? Yes. That means I’m going out. No means I’m not going out. If we say it the other way round, you’re going out this morning. Aren’t you. If I say yes, that also means I’m going out and no also means I’m not going out. So yes and no in the answer relate to the action itself. Not to the question tag directly.

[00:05:49] You have to put that in mind because sometimes people confuse the use of new. Yes and no. And they think it’s a direct answer to the question tag. No, it’s not a direct answer. Just to the question tag, it’s a direct answer to the whole sentence to the action itself. Are you going out or not? Yes, I am going out.

[00:06:06] No, I’m not going out. And now let’s move on and talk about another idea. And that is the intonation. The tone of voice, the meaning of a question tag. Depends on how you say it. If your voice goes down, you are not really asking a question. You expect the listener to agree with you. Now, if I say for example, it’s a nice day.

[00:06:25] Isn’t it? It’s a nice day, isn’t it? I didn’t say isn’t it. You see that I can lower my voice, isn’t it. Or my voice can go up and I say, isn’t it. If I lower my voice, that means it’s not actually a question. It’s not really a question. I expect you just to agree with me. So here, the person can say yes.

[00:06:45] Beautiful. It can be kind of a rhetorical question. Rhetorical question are questions. We don’t usually expect an answer for. It’s just a rhetorical question. Or when we say, for example, Paul doesn’t look well today. Does he? Does he not? Does he. Does he hear? I raised my voice. That means I really want to know, because I don’t know.

[00:07:04] No. And I’m not expecting any specific answer from you that doesn’t mean you can surprise me with the answer. It can be wrong. Maybe I’m pretty sure that this is the case, but it is not. It doesn’t mean that if a person lowers their voice at the end of a question tag, that means you have to agree. No, you can disagree if you want, but if a person lowers their voice, At the end of a question deck, that means you should expect what they mean.

[00:07:29] You should know that they expect this is the case, and they’re not actually expecting you to do anything else, but to agree with them, but maybe they’re wrong. It doesn’t mean that they’re right. Okay. Keep that in mind. What’s important about this is when you want to use question tags, why do you want to use them?

[00:07:45] What do you want to say? How do you want to express it? Are you pretty sure that this is the case? Do you expect the listener to agree with you so lower your voice? Lisa is very funny. She’s got a great sense of humor. Hasn’t she? Hasn’t she, you see, I lowered my voice here. That means I’m pretty sure you’re going to say yes she has, but maybe it’s not the case.

[00:08:06] Maybe you will surprise me. It doesn’t matter how you answer or how the person answers you. How a person answers a question tag. But here when you lower your voice, that means you expect the listener to agree with you. You’re not actually asking a question, but when you raise your voice, when the voice goes up, it is a real question.

[00:08:26] It is a question and the person is awaiting an answer. So here you haven’t seen Kate today. Have you. Have you, you see here, my voice went up now, when I say, have you I’m expecting an answer? I want to know. Yes or no. Maybe. Yes I have. Maybe. No, I haven’t. It doesn’t matter again, but here, when I raise my voice, when my voice goes up, that means it’s a real question.

[00:08:49] Now you can use a negative sentence with a positive tag to ask for things or information, or to ask somebody to do something. And the voice goes up at the end of the tag. For example, you say you couldn’t do me a favor. Could you now here, actually, you’re asking somebody to do something for you and the person can go, like it depends what it is not.

[00:09:08] Yes I could. No, I couldn’t. You’re actually asking a favor of a person. It depends what it is. Or you don’t know where Karen is. Do you? Sorry. I have no idea. So here when the voice goes up, it can be a real question or it can be, you’re asking for things information or for a favor or for somebody to do something for you.

[00:09:28] Now we come to the irregulars now because the tags, as we said, they’re usually the opposite. They use the same auxiliary verb of the main sentence. But what about some cases when it is a little bit difficult to do that? For example, when we use let’s let us. How should we say that let’s go for a walk and I want to use a tagging.

[00:09:49] What should I say? Let’s go for a walk and here let us, the verb is led. So it’s practically imperative. What should I say? What is the auxiliary here? Well, we don’t have a clear auxiliary because of that. When you use, let’s do something you use, shall we. Let’s go for a walk. Shall we? And usually the voice goes up.

[00:10:08] Let’s go for a walk. Shall we? That is usually asking somebody to go with you. That is inviting somebody to do something with you. Let’s do this. Shall we? Or what about don’t if you use imperative and negative after don’t the question tag is Willy. For example, we can say don’t be late. Will you? And the voice usually goes down with William.

[00:10:28] And what about, I’m not sure to be very simple. It’s verb to be, so we should use verb to be in the tag. Yeah, that’s right. But the problem is if I want to use it in affirmative, I want to say I’m right. And I want to use attack. I want to ask a question or maybe I’m just saying that because I expect the other person to agree with me and remember he, or we lower our voice or our voice goes down, but that’s not the point.

[00:10:50] What should I say verb to be M I, what should I say? M and I. There is no Emond I in English. And because of that, we change it only this once or only in this example too. Aren’t I, now we all know that I goes with M verb to be with, I is M obviously, but in question tags, when it comes like that, the sentence is affirmative and the tag is negative with I, we use aren’t so I’m right.

[00:11:18] Aren’t I. Yes you are. So with that, that’s everything I wanted to share with you about question texts. I hope you learned something useful. And I hope with this information, you will never be confused and you will be using more of these questions X, because to be honest, they’re useful in a lot of situations.

[00:11:33] And remember this part about the voice going up or down and how different the attitude is. You’re sure about one thing you expect the other person to agree with you. Your voice goes down in the tech. If you’re asking a real question, your voice should go up. Now that being said, let me remind you that you can find a lot of extra information on our website, English plus podcast.com.

[00:11:54] And there is also our latest offering English plus premium that we’re going to start next week. We’re going to have a full grammar course that is going to be specially for our premium members, a whole new module every week covering one. Big topic in grammar with a lot of activities and with personalized feedback, a place where you can ask anything you want and you will have personalized answers to your own questions.

[00:12:21] And that all comes from our team. And from me personally. Now, if you are interested in that, Go ahead and take the link. You can find in the description, go to our Patreon page and become a patron of English plus and become actually a premium member of English plus, and enjoy all our premium content. And by the way, it’s not only the grammar course, we’re talking about, we’re going to have other courses as well, but since we’re talking about grammar, I thought I might intrigue you with the grammar.

[00:12:45] Of course, that’s going to start at the beginning of next week. Now with that being said, this is your host, Danny. I would like to thank you very much for listening to another episode from English plus podcast. I will see you next time.

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