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tag question

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tag question
Definition:

A question added to a declarative sentence, usually at the end, to engage the listener, verify that something has been understood, or confirm that an action has occurred. Also known as a question tag.

Common tags include won't you? wasn't it? don't you? haven't you? okay? and right?


See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • "If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?"
    (Albert Einstein)


  • "There's nothing more exhilarating than pointing out the shortcomings of others, is there?"
    (Randal Graves in Clerks, 1994)


  • "I like New York in June,
    How about you?
    I like a Gershwin tune,
    How about you?"
    (B. Lane and Ralph Freed, "How About You")


  • "A toothbrush is a non-lethal object, isn't it?"
    (Morgan Freeman as Red in The Shawshank Redemption, 1994)


  • "This time we almost made the pieces fit, didn't we?
    This time we almost made some sense of it, didn't we?
    (Jim Webb, "Didn't We?")


  • "Now eventually you might have dinosaurs on your dinosaur tour, right?"
    (Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Malcolm in Jurassic Park, 1993)


  • "But we mustn't think it has all been wasted, must we? We must remember the good times, mustn't we?"
    (Eva Figes, Nelly's Version. Secker & Warburg, 1977)


  • "To actually see inside your ear canal--it would be fascinating, wouldn't it?"
    (Letter from Sonus, a hearing-aid company, quoted in The New Yorker, Mar. 24, 2003)


  • "I warned you, but did you listen to me? Oh, no, you knew, didn't you? Oh, it's just a harmless little bunny, isn't it?"
    (Tim in Monty Python and the Holy Grail)


  • "Question tags are not independent clauses, but they do require a response, and are highly interactive. Structurally, interrogatives are abbreviated yes/no interrogatives consisting of an operator (either positive or negative) and a pronoun, which repeats the subject or substitutes for it. Question tags are attached to one of the following clause types:
    • a declarative clause: It was quiet in there, wasn't it?
    • an exclamative clause: How quiet it was in there, wasn't it?
    • an imperative clause: Be quiet for a moment, will you?
    Of these, the declarative is by far the most common."
    (Angela Downing, English Grammar: A University Course. Taylor & Francis, 2006)


  • Commas with a tag question

    "Place a comma between a statement and the brief question that follows it when the subject of the statement and the subject of the question is the same entity (example 1). When they have different subjects, the statement and the question must be punctuated as separate grammatical elements (example 2).

    Examples
    1. George was not there, was he?
    2. I will never stay in that hotel again. Will you?
    (David K Woodroof, Woodroof's Quotations, Commas and Other Things English. iUniverse, 2005)
Also Known As: tag declarative, question tag (chiefly British), interrogative tag
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