Question tags are short statement placed at the end of a sentence to change to an interrogative statement. It helps the speaker to emphasize his expression, confirm a notion and even ask a question.
The general rule of question tag is if the main statement is positive, the question tag will be negative, vice versa.
- The fans booed one of the players, didn’t they?
- Mikel Obi is one of the valuable players in his club, isn’t he?
- Davido didn’t sing with D’banj, did he?
- Nathaniel Bassey sings only with worship singers, doesn’t he?
- He hasn’t done much in the industry, has he?
Guideline for question tags:
Basically, a question tag is initiated with the auxiliary verbs in the sentence. If the auxiliary verb in the main sentence is positive, the question tag’s will be negative, vice versa:
Nwankwo will start the local club here, won’t he?
The amateurs are recording their work, aren’t they?
Collins hasn’t had it fine with his boss today, has he?
We could not make it yesterday, could we?
It was the boy who picked the stick first, wasn’t it?
My father doesn’t take those vegetables, does he?
Secondly, where there is no auxiliary verb in the main sentence, use ‘do’ form of verb to form the question tag. Use ‘do/don’t’ for the plural simple present tense; ‘does/doesn’t’ for singular simple present tense; and ‘did/didn’t’ for past tense:
- Such issues cause division among friends, don’t they?
- The House of Representative members never visit their constituencies, do they?
- The teacher hardly beats his students, does he?
- He left, didn’t he?
- It seems that things are changing this season, doesn’t it?
- I never heard of your case, did I?
In addition to the guideline, you form your tags with the pronoun of the main subject in the sentence as seen in the examples created.
Other important points:
When ‘I am’ is used as the subject and the verb in the main sentence, use aren’t I as you tag.
I am getting it, aren’t I?
I am the boss here, aren’t I?
If you create a question tag out of a statement that contains broad negative (never, seldom, hardly, scarcely, rarely), the tag is normally positive.
The royal family hardly go to the market, do they?
Akpan seldom joins his mate for practice, does he?
We scarcely eat bitter leaf soup when Daddy is around, do we?
The school principal rarely discusses her problem with our community leader, does she?
In furtherance, where we have a complex sentence, the tag stems from the main clause:
He was dancing before we came, was he?
It seems that the boys have left their positions, doesn’t it?