Using question tags with correct intonation | DailyStep English

Using question tags with correct intonation

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This is Jane Lawson's Audio Blog #118 at DailyStep English

Jane Lawson English teacher Hello, I'm Jane at DailyStep English and welcome to my Audio Blog!

 Intonation is very important when we use question tags in English. Make sure you know how to use question tags with the correct intonation in my Audio Word Study below. There are also some free audio descriptions of all the topics in next week's DailyStep audio lessons. If you are new to DailyStep English, please register for a free trial of 5 UK/USA audio lessons and to be on my mailing list.

Here is Audio Word Study
 #057 on

Auxiliary Verbs (part 2) - QUESTION TAGS

Thank you for all your many requests asking me to explain how to use Question Tags and auxiliary verbs. As I explained in Auxiliary Verbs (Part 1) the word ‘auxiliary’ means ‘helper’, or ‘giving help’. Auxiliary verbs “help” to make the tense or structure of a main verb, but they do not give it any special meaning. Modal auxiliaries, such as ‘will, should and would’ actually help to give a verb meaning as well.

English verb structures often need more than one word. For example, in the sentence “Did you visit your mother?”, the main verb is visit, and the auxiliary verb is did.

Auxiliary verbs or modal auxiliaries are always used in question tags. We use question tags at the end of a statement, often because we want someone to agree with us, or because we want to check whether something is true or correct. Sometimes we just use them to keep a conversation moving, because question tags usually require a reply.

Listen to these examples:

1. You love learning English, don’t you? (note: here, I had a falling intonation when I said “don’t you?”. This falling intonation means that I believe the statement is true, so I am just confirming or asking you to agree.)

There are 2 possible answers to this: “Yes, I do” – meaning “Yes, I love learning English”, or “No, I don’t” – meaning “No, I don’t love learning English.”


2. He didn’t resign from his job, did he? (note: here, I had rising intonation when I said “did he?” so this is a genuine question. I am asking if he resigned from his job.)

There are 2 possible answers to this: “Yes, he did.” – meaning “Yes, he resigned from his job”, or “No, he didn’t.” – meaning “No, he didn’t resign from his job.”


3. It’s cold today, isn’t it? (note: here, the intonation is falling, and this the kind of way that we sometimes open a conversation with stranger or someone that we do not know well – perhaps a neighbour or colleague.)

There are 2 possible answers to this: “Yes, it is.” or “No, it isn’t.”


4. There are ten students in the class, aren’t there? (note: here, I had rising intonation when I said “aren’t there?” so this is a genuine question. I want to know how many students there are in the class.)


The grammar rules when forming question tags are as follows:



Positive Statement

It’s a beautiful day,


Negative question tag

isn’t it?


Negative Statement

You didn’t see him,


Positive question tag

did you?


So, it is not correct to say: “You love coffee, do you? , because both the verb and the question tag are positive. You need to say: “You love coffee, don’t you?”


Now, try to write your own sentences using question tags, and remember to say these sentences aloud so that you can practise intonation. Try to use examples that are true to your own life, as this will help you to remember them better. That’s all for Audio Word Study #057 on

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Well, that is it for today! I’ll be in touch again soon. Thank you for your many requests about subjects you would like me to cover in my blogs. I will cover as many of them as I can!


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