Glossary: tag question


A short question added to the end of a clause, such as did he? or wasn’t there?. These short additional interrogative clauses are usually incomplete and refer back to the main clause of the sentence, as in ...there was a large picture of your mother's mother wasn't there?[S1A-007 #167]. Tag questions are common in conversational speech, frequently used to seek agreement.

Tag questions

Do the following examples contain tag questions or not?

Spoken language

Spoken language and written language are often referred to as two different modes. Spoken language has a structure that is often different from that of written language. Because we use spoken language in different situations from written language, we can often rely on context, gesture and shared understanding, so many of the grammatical structures and devices that we tend to use in written language aren’t necessary.

One mode is not ‘better’ than another mode, and we should be careful not to describe spoken language as ‘incorrect’ or ‘wrong’.

Tag questions

Questions like ...isn’t it?, ...haven’t they? and ...wouldn’t you? that sit on the end of a statement are called tag questions in linguistics. There’s a range of different tag questions most people call on, varying by verb, tense, person and whether the tag is positive or negative.

Tag questions: Innit

For some people, innit is just another tag question, a contraction of isn’t it. But kids in urban Britain are using innit to cover a wider and wider range of situations. Here are some examples of non-standard use, gleaned from recent messageboard postings:


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