A question tag is a short statement at the end of a sentence that turns a statement into a question. When use a question tag, we typically ask about something we already know to be true, or are fairly certain to be true. To form a question tag, we use the modal verb of the previous clause in combination with the pronoun used in the statement. If no modal verb was used in the previous sentence, but a regular verb, we typically use “do”, “does”, or “did”. Though not grammatically incorrect, it is more common to use contractions when forming question tags.
We use a negative question tag after a positive statement, and we use a positive question tag after a negative statement.
Examples Positive statements, negative question tags:
Sam plays (regular verb) soccer, doesn’t he? (do – contracted) does he not (uncontracted)
Julia has (modal verb) taught English for many years, hasn’t she? (have, contracted) has she not (uncontracted)
Sam and Julia have been married for several years, haven’t they? (have, contracted) have they not (uncontracted)
Ohio State is very big, isn’t it? (to be – contracted) is it not (uncontracted)
Examples Negative statements, positive question tags:
Sam hasn’t played soccer in years, has he?
Julia doesn’t like baking, does she?
They don’t serve wine, do they?
Sam and Julia didn’t get divorced, did they?