When you are learning a language, you become very good at showing people you don't know something! But sometimes we have an idea about something, but we're not completely sure. How can we express different levels of certainty?
This programme is suitable for elementary / pre-intermediate learners.
When you've listened to the programme, don't forget to practise what you've learned with the activity at the bottom of this page.
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We often use this structure when we are unsure of something or want to check information.
1. It's not Shilpa Shetty ...
2. She isn't an actress...
3. That's Shilpa Shetty ...
4. She's been on T.V. ...
Examples 3 and 4 show slightly more certainty than 1 and 2. However, the intonation the speaker uses with a question tag is the main indicator of the level of certainty. Listen to these two clips of Example 1:
Note: When responding to question tags, yes and no refer to whether something is or isn't the case, not whether the first speaker is right or wrong. So in the following exchange, B is saying he doubts the woman is an actress:
A: She's not an actress, is she?
B: No, I don't think so.