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Question Tags
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Question Tags

Learn about the use and intonation of different question tags and practice their pronunciation.

Question tags

In the discussion you watched earlier, Saher used something called a question tag to check her answer. She said:

Servers give us access to websites, don’t they?

Positive and Negative Question Tags

Question tags are often used to check information. In the example above, the statement is positive, and the question tag is negative.

a positive statement and a negative question tag

However, if the statement is negative, the question tag is positive.

a negative statement and a positive question tag

Rising and Falling Intonation

The intonation that you use with your question tag can slightly change the meaning. Here are the same question tags with both rising and falling intonation. Can you hear the difference?

Rising Intonation
Servers give us access to websites, don’t they?
It doesn’t take long for information to reach the server, does it?

Falling Intonation
Servers give us access to websites, don’t they?
It doesn’t take long for information to reach the server, does it?

When should I use rising intonation?

You use rising intonation in the question tag if you are not sure about your statement. You use it when you think you might be wrong and you want to check this with someone.

When should I use falling intonation?

You use falling intonation in the question tag if you are mostly confident that your statement is correct. This intonation is used to check if the other person agrees with you.

Question Tag Verbs

The verb in question tags also changes. It can be is, does, have, can or should. The verb depends on the statement.

Let’s look at two examples:

Verb Statement verb Question tag
To be (is/am/are) … a server is a very powerful computer , isn’t it?
Other verbs in present simple … servers give us access to websites, , don’t they?

The question tag also needs to agree with the subject in the statement. Have a look at how they change depending on if the subject is third person singular or plural:

Singular/Plural Statement Question tag
Third person singular a server is a very powerful, centralised computer, that clients can connect to , isn’t it?
Third person plural Servers are an important part of sharing information , aren’t they?
Third person singular it actually happens very quickly , doesn’t it?
Third person plural servers give us access to websites , don’t they?

Pronunciation

Here are some common question tags. Listen and practise the pronunciation.

do be have can
…don’t they? …aren’t they? …haven’t they? …can’t they?
…do they? …are they? …have they? …can they?
…doesn’t it? …isn’t it? …hasn’t it? …can’t it?
…does it? …is it? …has it? …can it?

Discussion

Do you feel confident using question tags in English? Try writing a question below using one of the question tags you have learnt in this lesson.

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English for STEM: Understanding Technology Vocabulary

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