Teaching Question Tags

Questions
Questions. John Lund DigitalVision


If we want to ask for information we usually use the standard question form. However, sometimes we just want to keep a conversation going, or confirm information. In this case, question tags are often used to solicit input or confirmation to what we are saying. Using question tags well also promotes a keen understanding of the use of various auxiliary verbs.

Aim: Developing active and passive knowledge of the use of question tags

Activity: Gap-fill followed by sentence matching and, finally, an oral practice exercise to promote active usage of question tags

Level: Pre-intermediate to intermediate

Outline:

  • Activate target area by asking students simple yes/no questions insisting on the correct use of the auxiliary verbs. For example: Do you play tennis? - Yes, I do. Have you been to England - No, I haven't.
  • Introduce the idea of question tags by asking students questions using information that you already know about them. For example: You are studying English, aren't you? - He didn't go to New York last year, did he?
  • Explain the usage of question tags to students and when they are more preferable than direct questions.
  • Divide students into groups of 3 - 4 and have them complete the gap-fill exercise.
  • Give each group the sentence halves (which you have cut into strips prior to the lesson) and ask them to match them.
  • Correct the sentence matching as a class.
  • Focus on pronunciation by demonstrating the different meaning indicated by a rising voice (asking for more information) and a dropping voice (confirming information).
  • Practice using the question tag examples with both types of intonation
  • Ask each student to write his/her name on a piece of paper followed by five simple statements about him/herself. For example: I have been married for four years. I live in San Francisco. etc.
  • Collect the statements and re-distribute the sheets to different students. Make sure that the students keep the sheets upside down until they are called on.
  • Each student then uses the statements to form question tag questions asking the student who has written the statements. For example: You have been married for four years, haven't you? You live in San Francisco, don't you?

Question Tag Exercises

Put the following question tags in to the correct gaps. Each question tag is used only once.

isn't it?, has he?, were you?, aren't you?, doesn't he?, do you?, is she?, didn't you?, did she?

She didn't watch the film last night, ________
It's great to see each other again, __________
He comes every Friday, _________
You're married, __________
You went to Tom's last weekend, _________
You don't like tripe, ___________
She isn't much of a cook, ________
He hasn't lived here long, ________
You weren't invited to the party, __________


Match The Sentence Halves

SentenceQuestion Tag
They enjoy playing football
She isn't thinking of moving
He'll go to university
She hasn't studied for very long
Jack bought a new car last week
They aren't serious
You live in an apartment
She doesn't speak Russian
They won't shut up
He isn't concentrating
They hadn't visited you before
This music is fantastic

is she
does she
had they
don't they
won't he
don't you
will they
has she
didn't he
isn't it
are they
is he

Answers

They enjoy playing football, don't they?
She isn't thinking of moving, is she?
He'll go to university, won't he?
She hasn't studied for very long, has she?
Jack bought a new car last week, didn't he?
They aren't serious, are they?
You live in an apartment, don't you?
She doesn't speak Russian, does she?
They won't shut up, will they?
He isn't concentrating, is he?
They hadn't visited you before, had they?
This music is fantastic, isn't it?