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A tag question is a statement turned into a question, when asking for confirmation or disconfirmation of that statement. They can be an indicator of politeness, emphasis, or irony. They may suggest confidence or lack of confidence; they may be confrontational or tentative.

  

These are the structures.

 

(1) Positive statement, negative tag?

 

You need to finish your homework before lunch, don't you?

** You need finish your homework before lunch, needn't you? (auxiliary verb)

When “need” is used as a modal auxiliary, you can use the form "needn't".  If it is used as a main verb, then you should not.

 

John is coming to the party, isn’t he?

Her eyes are black, aren’t they?

Mary will be here at eight, won’t she? (auxiliary verb)

You should have asked me to stay with you last night, shouldn't you?  (auxiliary verb)

He said (that) he would be here at eight o’clock, didn’t he?

I told her that my brother lives in Europe didn’t I?

John indicated that Mary stole the paint, did he not?

 

You used to go to bed after 11pm, didn’t you?  (used in modern English)

* * You used to go to bed after 11pm, usedn’t you?  (very rare)

I have recently found that there is the usage of “usedn’t”; however, it is rarely used in modern English and I would advice against that usage.

 

(2) Negative statement, positive tag?

 

You don’t want to stay here with me, do you?

Julie isn’t coming to the party, is she?

I didn’t lie about his whereabouts, did I?

Lisa won’t turn in her papers unless you force her, will she?

 

(3) Positive statement, positive tag? (Ironic Statement)

 

肯定句 -> 肯定附加問句 (usually seen with interjection words)

當我們想要表達驚奇, 不相信, 諷刺或特別的興致, 好奇心:

 

A: "I talked back to the boss this morning."

B: "Oh, you did, did you?”

=> Oh 表達驚奇, normally people will not talk back to their boss because it might cause them their career.  We would be very surprise or in disbelief if we hear someone said that.

 

A: “I am dining at the White House tomorrow.”

B: “So you are, are you?”

=> 表驚奇, 不相信的口氣

Similarly, when someone said "I am dining at the White House tomorrow." 

Our response would be "So you are, are you?"

So 表達不相信 好奇

 

A: "I need you!"

B: "Oh!  You do, do you?”

=> 諷刺, 不相信的口氣

 

Person A made a statement and Person B responded with a remark indicating that Person B did not trully believe what Person A said. You can usually tell when seeing the "interjection words" such as "Oh", "So", etc

 

 (4) Negative statement, negative tag?

 

定句 -> 定附加問句, 用在懷有敵意時

 

A: "Dogs are not allowed here."

B: "So you don’t think he is adorable, don’t you?”

 

 (5) Imperative Statement, will (won’t, can, can’t, would) you?  當我們要人遵循我們的建議時-> will you won’t you 附加問句:

In this case, we use "won't" for invitations or suggestion. We use "can", "can't", "will", "would" for orders.

Have another cigarette, won’t you?
Take care of yourself, won’t you?

Give it up, won’t you?

Stop smoking, will you? (When you strongly want someone to stop smoking, you use the word "won't".)

 

 

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  • Elisa
  • Hi, Chingy
    I found on the web that indicates the usage of "usedn't", though possible but rarely used in modern English. 
    The marginal auxiliary used to normally takes the do construction in modern English to form questions and negatives, and is usually written in the base verb form (without the -d).
    For example: 
    I didn't use to go to bed before 10pm. 
    When did you use to go to bed?
    I used to go to bed after 11pm. 
    I used to watch Seinfield, didn't I?
    So in your case: " You used to play basketball, usedn't you?", you can write it that way, but it is very very uncommon in modern English.  You may see it used in some classic literatures.  My suggestion would be to avoid using it when nobody else is using.  Grammar rules change and some of them may be deemed obsolete and evolved as time goes by.
    As for "need", when it is used as a modal auxiliary, then you can use the form "needn't"
    For example:
    He needs cleaning up his mess, needn't he? (need - auxiliary verb)
    He need not clean up his mess, need he?
    He needs to clean up his mess, doesn't he?  (need - regular verb)
    He needs me, doesn't he?
    =>  How do you tell if a verb is an auxiliary verb or not?  You can usually see if there is a to-infinitive.
  • Angelo
  • 請問大師,敘述句出現 must,附加問句要用什麼?e.g. He must wear that suit to the meeting, _____ he?是 mustn't OR needn't?
  • He must wear that suit to the meeting, mustn't he?
    He needs to wear that suit to the meeting, doesn't he?
    He need wash his clothes, needn't he?

    elisaenglish 於 2009/05/01 20:40 回覆

  • chingy
  • Thanks for the detailed grammar-teachin', Elisa.  
    Bty, I'd like to make some addtions here.
    e.g You used to play basketball, usedn't you?/ don't you?
    e.g You need a pen, needn't you?/don't you?
    I learned these two usages in a grammar book.
    I would appreciate if you add them to this article.
  • Hi, chingy
    Your examples are incorrect.  This is the correction.
    You used to play basketball, didn't you?
    You need a pen, don't you?
    Try thinking it this way.
    I didn't use to play basketball.
    You don't need a pen.

    elisaenglish 於 2009/04/25 19:58 回覆

  • Chingy
  • two tricks on Tag Question

    1. You should have talked this to me, didn't you?
    (This statement signifies an action that should've happened in the past, so the Tage Q is the past-tense form#

    Does my notion make sense?

    2. I'm a student, am I not? / aren't I? #I'm not sure which one is correct.)

  • 1. “Should” is used as an auxiliary verb here, you should use the form "shouldn't".
    2. Both are right.

    elisaenglish 於 2010/06/01 16:07 回覆