Posted by: Idioma Extra | January 19, 2011

Thursday Tidbits


Tag questions

Tag questions are short questions that come after a statement. There are several reasons why people use tag questions in conversation. One reason is to clarify a fact or statement. For example:

You can type really fast, can’t you?

She is from Germany, isn’t she?

Another reason is to convince someone of something. Here are some examples:

There is too much traffic in the streets, isn’t there?

The boss doesn’t pay us enough, does he?

Finally, another reason to use tag questions is when judging someone or expressing suspicion about another person.

You don’t know what to do, do you?

He isn’t very sociable, is he?

Here is a quick guide to forming the tag question. Example sentence: Steve looks terrible today.

1)      Change to negative (or if negative, change to positive) – Steve doesn’t look terrible today.

2)      Change to question – Doesn’t Steve look terrible today?

3)      Change the subject to a pronoun – Doesn’t he look terrible today?

4)      Eliminate rest of sentence – Doesn’t he?

Result: Steve looks terrible today, doesn’t he?

Check Yourself

Look at the following tag questions and decide if they are correct or not. If not, make the necessary change to the tag question. Then decide if the tag question is being used to clarify (CR), convince (CV), or judge (J).

Example: He walks to work every day, does he? Doesn’t he? / CR

1. Steve is going to Europe next year, wasn’t he? _________________   /  ___

2. He doesn’t like anchovies on his pizza, doesn’t he? ______________  /  ___

3. Your mother and sister aren’t good at preparing the decorations, are they? _______________ / __

4. His friends went to Ojo de Agua last weekend, don’t they? _____________ / __

5. German beer is the best, aren’t it? ______________ / __

6. She hasn’t helped us a lot, hasn’t she? _______________ / __

7. New york has the best restaurants in the world, hasn’t it? _______________ / __

8. Before they graduated, they had found a job, hadn’t they? ________________ / __

9. You have no idea what’s happening, haven’t you? _______________ / __

10. They always check passports at the border, doesn’t they? _____________ / __

Answers to last week’s Check Yourself:

1. (Someone / Anyone) told me what happened.

2. I don’t drink (some / any) alcohol when I’m on a diet.

3. He never has (some / any) solutions to our problems.

4. I think (somebody / anybody) is outside.

5. He has never tried (something / anything) exotic.

6. When I need help, there is rarely (someone / anyone) available.

7. They don’ think (someone / anyone) will come to the party.

8. I‘m afraid I don’t have (any / some) answers for you.

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