In Spoken English, we often use question
tag to ask for the second person’s agreement to what we state. In the sentence “You
don’t like it, do you?” the speaker
merely states his opinion and ask the second person to agree or disagree. The tag
used is often the opposite of the statement. If the statement is in positive,
the tag is usually in negative.
If he speaker thinks that the second person
will agree with his or her statement, the intonation at the end of the
statement falls down—just like the intonation of all statements. On the other
hands, if the speaker doubts whether or not the second person will agree, the
intonation rises at the end. The sentence, “You live here, don’t you?” with
different intonation (falls down and rises at the end) conveys different meaning
in terms of the degree of certainty of the speaker.
Question tags for learners of English as a
second language are still difficult to apply in Spoken English. Grammatical
errors are often found in terms of tag agreement. Such mistakes as “You work
here, aren’t you?”, or “He doesn’t want to go to the market, is he?” are still
made by students whose grammatical skill still leave much to be desired. When
they do the written test on question tags, all of their answers are correct. In
order that they can use question tags in spoken English, they have to practice
speaking and of course they should know what question tags are for.
Take a look at the following. “You don’t
want to drink coffee, don’t you?” or “you live here, do you?” The tags are
different to those of the statements in the previous examples. The sentence “you
like it, do you?” is used when the speaker is surprised at the fact that the
person he talks to likes it. The followings are examples of question tags you
use when you are surprised:
You haven’t eaten, haven’t you?
(I am surprised that you haven’t eaten.)
He lives in Jakarta, does he?
(It surprises me that he lives in Jakarta)
You don’t love her, don’t you?
(I thought you loved her)
The intonation of these question tags rises
at the end of the statement.
Question tags are also used in imperative
statements. “Will or would” is used as the tags.
Come here, will you?
Open the window, would you?
Don’t tell me about it, will
Go and get it, will you?
“Won’t” is used in imperatives when we want
to show politeness (polite requests).
Sit down, won’t you?
Give me some money, won’t you?
Don’t get mad at me, won’t you?
“Shall” is used when we use “Let’s”.
Let’s take a bus, shall we?
Let’s not talk about it
anymore, shall we?
Let’s go to the office earlier,
Question tags are also used in a short
answer to show surprise or disbelief.
A: I haven’t eaten since this
morning, you see. B: You haven’t, haven’t you?
A: I am now married. B: You
are, are you?