Use the French Expression "N'est-ce Pas" Properly in Conversation

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The French expression n'est-ce pas (pronounced "nes-pah") is what grammarians call a tag question. It's a word or short phrase tagged on to the end of a statement, turning it into a yes-or-no question.

Most of the time, this formal expression is used in conversation when the speaker, who already expects a certain response, asks a question mainly as a rhetorical device. Literally translated, n'est-ce pas means "is it not," though most speakers understand it to mean "isn't it?" or "aren't you?" 

In English, tag questions often consist of the verb from the statement combined with "not." In French, however, the verb is irrelevant; the tag question is just n'est-ce pas. English tag questions "right?" and "no?" are similar in usage, though not register. They are informal, whereas n'est-ce pas is formal. The informal French tag question equivalent is non?

Examples and Usage

  •    Vous êtes prêt, n'est-ce pas? >  You're ready, aren't you?
  •    Elle est belle, n'est-ce pas? > She's beautiful, isn't she?
  •    Nous devons partir bientôt, n'est-ce pas? > We have to leave soon, don't we?
  •    Il a fait ses devoirs, n'est-ce pas? > He did his homework, didn't he?
  •    Ils peuvent nous accompagner, n'est-ce pas? > They can come with us, can't they?

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