Сеанс работы 2

You knew there was another way to make questions in English, didn’t you? In this session we look at question tags and how you can use them to turn statements into questions. You want to learn how to make question tags and how to say them, don’t you?

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They're easy to say, aren't they?

Question tags might be easy to make - you just need to make sure the verb and pronoun are correct - but how we say them can be tricky.

Listen to this short explanation about saying question tags and try out saying question tags yourself!

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STING

Mike
Question tags are short yes/no questions that we add to the end of statements to turn them into questions.

For example, here is a statement:

He’s our new designer. He is our new designer.

And a question:

Is he our new designer? Is he our new designer?

And here is the statement turned into a question with a question tag:

He’s our new designer, isn’t he? He’s our new designer, isn’t he?

The intonation of this tag – that is, how we say it – is really important as it can change the meaning behind the question.

If the tag has rising intonation – if my voice goes up when I ask the question – then it’s a genuine question. I don’t know the answer and I want to know.

He’s our new designer, isn’t he? (rising intonation)
He’s our new designer, isn’t he?

If the tag has falling intonation – if my voice goes down when I ask the question – this can mean two things. One, I think I know the answer to the question and I want to check. I think he is the new designer and I want to know if this is true. Or two, I’m using my intonation to try and start a conversation with someone. I’m asking someone about the new designer and I want to talk to that person.

He’s our new designer, isn’t he? (falling intonation)
He’s our new designer, isn’t he?

STING

The way you make your voice go up and down when you speak is called intonation, and it's really important for questions. In English, questions that you can answer yes or no usually go up at the end - they have rising intonation. Questions that ask for certain information, with question words like when or where, tend to go down - they have falling intonation.

When we use question tags, our intonation can change the meaning and purpose of our question.

  • Firstly, we might be asking a question that we really don't know the answer to.
  • Secondly, we might be using a question tag to check something we think is true. 
  • Thirdly, we might use a question tag to start a conversation.

Here is one question tag and three possible meanings depending on the intonation:

You're our new designer, aren't you? (With the voice going up/rising intonation: this is a real question and the speaker doesn't know the answer.)

You're our new designer, aren't you? (With the voice going down/falling intonation: the speaker thinks they know the answer to the question and wants to check.)

You're our new designer, aren't you? (With the voice going down/falling intonation: the speaker is expressing interest and wants to start a conversation.)

To do

You can understand the difference in how we say question tags now, can't you?

It's time for you to have a go at saying question tags with rising and falling intonation. Make up some question tags yourself. Practise making your voice go up or down at the end of your tags - and if you can record yourself doing it.

Next

So remember, when a person says a question tag and their voice goes up, they probably don't know the answer. If their voice goes down, they might just be checking what they think is true!

Next up is 6 Minute Grammar. You can listen to it to help you understand the grammar in today's activities, can't you?

Сеанс работы над грамматикой

  • Question tags work by turning a statement into a question by adding a tag at the end. The tag is a short yes or no question.

    You’re here for the interview today, aren’t you? (Compare with: Are you here for the interview?)

    If the statement is positive, the tag is negative. If the statement is negative, then the tag is positive.

    We are meeting this afternoon, aren’t we?
    The job situation isn’t getting any better, is it?

    The statement and the question tag must match: they have the same pronoun and the verbs must be in the same present, past or future form.

    Barbara hasn’t eaten lunch today, has she?
    Mr. Reese doesn’t own a computer, does he?
    You are living in Prague, aren’t you?
    All the candidates arrived on time, didn’t they?