English Daily Workout: Use of Auxiliaries in Tag Questions

Use of Auxiliaries in Tag Questions

Grammar Lesson:   

7. The use of auxiliaries in tag questions

In English, the verbs used as auxiliaries are to be, to do, to have, and the modal auxiliaries. All of these auxiliaries can be used in tag questions and short answers.

a. Negative tag questions
Negative tag questions have already been discussed. An affirmative statement is often followed by a negative tag question, in order to ask for confirmation of the affirmative statement. In the following examples, the negative tag questions are underlined. Contractions are usually used in negative tag questions.
e.g. You are coming with me, aren't you?
      You like coffee, don't you?

For the Simple Present and the Simple Past of the verb to be, tag questions are formed using the verb itself. For instance, in the following examples, the verbs is and were are used in negative tag questions.
e.g. She is very nice, isn't she?
      They were ready on time, weren't they?

For the Simple Present and the Simple Past of verbs other than the verb to be, the auxiliary to do is used in tag questions. For instance, in the following examples, the auxiliaries does and did are used in negative tag questions.
e.g. He rides a bicycle, doesn't he?
      They ordered pizza, didn't they?

For all other tenses and conjugations, the first auxiliary is used in tag questions. For instance, in the following examples, the first auxiliaries have, would, should and can are used in negative tag questions.
e.g. You have worked all night, haven't you?
      He would have helped us, wouldn't he?
      They should get more exercise, shouldn't they?
      She can speak five languages, can't she?

See Exercise 12.

b. Affirmative tag questions
A negative statement is often followed by an affirmative tag question, in order to ask for confirmation of the negative statement, or in order to ask for more information. In the following examples, the affirmative tag questions are underlined.
e.g. He is not very tall, is he?
      They don't want to work, do they?

The rules for forming affirmative tag questions are similar to those for forming negative tag questions. In the case of the Simple Present and Simple Past of the verb to be, the verb itself is used; and in the case of all other tenses and conjugations, the first auxiliary is used.
e.g. He wasn't much help, was he?
      They didn't want to come with us, did they?
      You hadn't slept well, had you?
      She can't speak Greek, can she?
      They wouldn't mind helping us, would they?

See Exercise 13.

Exercises 12 and 13






ENGLISH GRAMMAR: EXPLANATIONS AND EXERCISES
by Mary Ansell


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