جلسه 1

In this Masterclass, Dan's talking about question tags...

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تمرین 1

BBC Masterclass

Question Tags

You want to know about question tags, do you? Dan will explain.

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Dan
So you want to learn question tags, do you? Lucky for you, I’m here to tell you everything I know, aren’t I? Ready, are you? Let’s go!

Now, at this level many of you will know that a question tag is an auxiliary verb plus a pronoun, which is put at the end of a sentence, either to ask for more information about something, or to confirm something which we believe is true. The question tag relates directly to the sentence. The auxiliary verb matches the main verb and the pronoun comes directly from the noun. Question tags can either have a rising or falling intonation, and, as everybody knows, if the main sentence is affirmative, then the question tag is negative, so: You do live here, don’t you? and vice versa. That’s the easy stuff: now for the hard stuff...

So sentences which use a negative or limiting adverb, such as never, and hardly, and other words of that type, even though they appear to be positive in construction, they are treated as a negative by the question tag. So, not: They never go on holiday, don’t they? But They never go on holiday, do they?

Sentences which use indefinite nouns such as someone, anyone, no one and everyone, can be tricky with question tags. After all, what’s the pronoun for no one? In question tags we use they. For example: No one cares, do they? Everyone left, didn’t they? However, with other indefinite nouns such as something and everything, we would use it. So: Everything is OK, isn’t it? Or Nothing matters, does it? Got it?

An imperative is a command, or at least a strong suggestion. An example would be: Sit down! Now, because imperatives don’t have a tense, they don’t use an auxiliary verb in the same way as other sentences do. So, how can we make a question tag with them? Well, the answer is, we use won’t you - although other modal verbs can be used, such as will, would, can, and could. Sit down, won’t you? Open the window, will you? Don’t go outside, will you? Keep quiet, won’t you?

The level of formality depends upon the choice of question tag and the tone of your voice, although can’t you can come across as quite impatient and annoyed – for example: Turn the TV down, can’t you?

When making a suggestion, it is common to use the expression let’s. Let’s stands for let us, for example: Let’s go to the cinema. When we use let’s in a question tag we always use shall we, regardless of whether let’s is affirmative or negative. So for example: Let’s go to the cinema, shall we? Or Let’s not go to the cinema, shall we?

Double positives are possible, and this is quite a common way of reacting when people have just learned news or when somebody is reacting in an emotional way to something. For example: You’re getting married, are you? You just lost your wallet, did you? You see?

Finally, if you start a sentence with I think, don’t use the question tag do I. I think he’s a great teacher, do I? Though this can happen in some cases, such as sarcasm, we normally make the question tag agree with the main information, otherwise we’re basically asking our self to agree with our self. So, for example: I think he’s a great teacher, isn’t he? Or I don’t think that’s a good idea, is it?

For more information go to: bbclearningenglish.com. I’ve been Dan, haven’t I? You’ve been fantastic, haven’t you? And I’ll see you next time, won’t I? Cheerio!

Question Tags: Summary

Question tags are made of an auxiliary verb plus a pronoun, which go at the end of a sentence, either to ask for more information about something, or to confirm something which we believe is true. The auxiliary verb matches the tense of the main verb and the pronoun comes directly from the noun. Question tags can either have a rising or falling intonation depending if you want to genuinely ask for the answer or expect someone to agree with you. Finally, Question tags usually work in opposition. If the main sentence is affirmative, then the question tag is usually negative, so: You do live here, don’t you? and vice versa. 

1. Negative or Limiting Adverbs
Sentences which use a negative or limiting adverbs (never, no, hardly, scarcely, little, etc.) are treated as negative by the question tag, even though their construction is positive. Therefore the question tag is positive. 

WRONG: They never go on holiday, don’t they?
RIGHT: They never go on holiday, do they?

2. Indefinite Nouns
Sentences which use indefinite nouns such as someone, anyone, no one and everyone, use they in the tag.  

No one cares, do they? 
Everyone left, didn’t they?
Someone's at the door, are they?

With other indefinite nouns such as something and everything, use it:

Everything is OK, isn’t it? 
Nothing matters, does it?
Something smells bad, doesn't it?

3. Imperatives
Imperatives are commands, suggestions, offers, advice etc. They are constructed of the bare infinitive in the affirmative and use don't in the negative: Sit down! Don't sit there!

Imperatives don’t have a tense or use an auxiliary verb in the same way as other sentences do. To make a question tag with imperatives, we use won't you? although other modal verbs can be used, such as will, would, can, and could.

Sit down, won’t you?
Open the window, would you?
Don’t go outside, will you?
Keep quiet, won’t you?

Politeness and formality depend upon the choice of question tag and the tone of your voice, although can’t you can come across as quite impatient and annoyed:

Turn the TV down, can’t you?

4. Suggestions with Let's:
When making a suggestion, it is common to use the expression let’s. Let’s stands for let us, for example: Let’s go to the cinema. When we use let’s in a question tag we always use shall we, regardless of whether let’s is affirmative or negative. So for example:

Let’s go to the cinema, shall we?
Let’s not go to the cinema, shall we?

5. Double positives
Double positives are possible. This is where the both the sentence and the question tag are positive, for example: 

You're going to become a pilot, are you?

Double positives are common when people are reacting to news, repeating something they have just heard or reacting in an emotional way to something. For example:

You’re getting married, are you? 
You've lost your wallet, have you?

6. Opinions
If you start a sentence with I think, don’t use the question tag do/don't I. Make the question tag agree with the main information in the sentence. This does not apply in the second or third person.

I think it's a nice day, isn't it?
I don't think that's a good idea, is it?
You thought you'd be ok, did you? (second person)
He thinks he's going to university, does he? (third person)

However, in some situations, for example, when we're being sarcastic, we do make the tag agree with I think.

A: Yes, yes. Well done. I know you think you are so clever.
B: Oh! So, I think I'm clever, do I? Not at all.

Test your knowledge of Question Tags

7 Questions

Choose the option that complete the sentence correctly, won't you?

تبریک می گوییم
Excellent! آفرین! نمره شما Bad luck! :
x / y

End of Session 1

That wraps up this week’s Masterclass. We'll see you next time, won't we? Next, join us for News Review, where you can gain language from the latest stories and learn how to use it in your everyday English.

دستور زبان این جلسه

  • Question Tags

    Negative or Limiting Adverbs
    Sentences which use negative or limiting adverbs such as never need a positive question tag.
     They never go on holiday, do they?

    Indefinite Nouns
    Sentences which use indefinite nouns such as someone, anyone, no one and everyone, use they in the tag. However, with other indefinite nouns such as something and everything, use it
     No one cares, do they?
     Everything is OK, isn’t it?

    Imperatives
    Use won't you to build a question tag with an imperative.
     Sit down, won’t you?

    Suggestions (Let's) 
    For question tags following affirmative and negative suggestions wtih let’s, use shall we
     Let’s go to the cinema, shall we?
     Let’s not go to the cinema, shall we?

    Double positives
    Sometimes both the sentence and the question tag are positive, especially when people are reacting to news.
     You’re getting married, are you?
     You just lost your wallet, did you?

    Opinions
    If you start a sentence with I think, don’t use the question tag do/don't I. Make the question tag agree with the main information in the sentence.
     I think it's a nice day, isn't it?

     I don't think that's a good idea, is it?