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Unit 16 questions 2


 Question tags: form A


 A question tag is a short phrase at the end of a statement that turns it into a question. It invites the other person to reply.


 Question tags are formed using auxiliaries (do, be, have or a modal). An affirmative statement usually has a negative tag, and vice-versa.

You speak French, dont you? You dont speak French, do you?

You went to the conference, didnt you? You didnt go to the conference, did


You can meet him tomorrow, cant you? You cant meet him tomorrow, can


Hes here, isnt he? He isnt here, is he?


 Question tags: use B


 Here are five possible uses of question tags presented in a dialogue: A: You havent got the sales figures yet, have you?

(request for information)

B: They dont have to be ready till Friday do they? (confirmation) A: Youre not going to leave it until the last minute again, are you?


B: Well, I havent had any time, have I? (defence) A: So it wasnt you going home early yesterday, was it? (sarcasm)


 If we use a negative statement with an affirmative tag, we often expect the answer to be no. A: Im going to need an interpreter. B: Of course. You dont speak French, do you?


This form can be more polite because it is easier for the other person to reply no.

A: You dont speak French, do you?

B: No, sorry, I dont.


 A negative statement with an affirmative tag can also be used to ask people for things in a polite way.

You couldnt give me a hand, could you?

You havent got any change for the parking meter, have you?

 Question tags: other points C


 If the main verb in the statement is have, you make a tag with do.

You had a meeting this morning, didnt you?


When have is the auxiliary the tag is with have (as normal):

Youve just been to Austria, havent you?


 The tag with Im 11 am is arent.

Im a fool, arent I?


 The tag with Lets is shall. This is a suggestion.

Lets break for coffee now, shall we?


 After an imperative we can use will you? or wont you?

Have a seat, will you?

Give me a call later, wont you?


If the imperative is a request we can use can you? or could you?

Hold the lift for me, can you?

Pass me that file, could you?


 Reply questions D


 We can use a short question to reply to what someone says. We do this to show surprise or uncertainty. The meaning is like Really? or Is that true? A: I went to Head Office last week.

B: Did you? (interest)

A: I cant install the new software.

B: Cant you? (surprise) A: I think theyre arriving at ten.

B: Are they? (uncertainty)


 The reply question uses an auxiliary verb like in a question tag, but affirmative to negative.


 Indirect questions E


 We can be more polite or tentative by beginning a question with a phrase like Do you know, Do you think/feel, Do you mind telling me, Could you tell me, Could I ask you, Id like to know, I was wondering.

Do you feel this rise in interest is a result of increased recruiting? Can you

give me Yales profile JOT the Class of 99 (i.e. minority, non-US, female)? Also, you mentioned that Yale has been working hard to strengthen its inter-



Can we put the meeting off until Friday?

(= move it to a later time, delay)

view program. Could you tell me a bit more about what the school is doing on that front?


 The word order of an indirect question is like a normal statement. direct: Could you call me a taxi?

indirect: Do you think you could call me a taxi?

direct: How old are you?

indirect: Could I ask you how old you are?


 Where there is no question word or modal verb we use if or whether.

direct: Does Jane still work here?

indirect: Do you know if Jane still works here?


 Prepositions in questions F


 The preposition comes in the same place as in a statement, following the main often at the end.

Who are you waiting for? What are you looking at? Where do you come from?

What were they talking about in the meeting?


 What is it for and what was it like G


 We use what... for? to ask about a purpose. The meaning is why.

What is this switch for? (= Why is this switch here?)


 We use what... like? to ask if something is good or bad. The meaning is

What was the conference like? (= How was the conference?)



Can you put me through to Sales, please?

(= connect someone by telephone)



Exercise 1 (A, C)

Add a question tag to each sentence.


1 Were nearly there, .. ?

2 You know the Brazilian market, .. ?

3 You went to Brazil in March, .. ?

4 You havent been to Brazil, .. ?

5 Hes never been to Brazil, .. ?

6 You wont be late, .. ?

7 Harry isnt going to retire, .. ?

8 We had a good meal last night, .. ?

9 Im late, .. ? Sorry.

10 Lets meet again soon, .. ?


Exercise 2 (B)

Make a question with a question tag.


1 Ask a colleague if he sent the fax. You expect the answer to be no.

You .. ?

2 Ask a colleague if he sent the fax. You expect the answer to be yes.

You .. ?

3 Ask a stranger at the airport if his name is Mr Peters. Youre not sure his name is

Mr Peters.

Your name .. ?

4 You recognise someone. You are sure his name is Mr Peters.

Your name .. ?

5 You guess that Biotec have cancelled their order.

Biotec .. ?

6 You are very surprised that Biotec have cancelled their order.

Biotec .. ?



I think the photocopier has run out of toner.

(= there is none left)

Exercise 3 (A, B, C)

Complete these dialogues with questions tags.






Hi, Martha, were due to meet next week (1) .. ? Well,

Ive just remembered that Im on holiday then. Can you make another time?

Yes, when are you free?

Um, lets meet a fortnight on Tuesday, (2) .. ?

Let me look in my diary. Yes, thats fine a fortnight on






Luis will be arriving at the office at two, (3) .. ? No, at three.

Oh, right. Well, hes been here before, so he should know how

to find the office, (4) .. ?

But that was before we moved buildings, (5) .. ?

Oh, yeah. Ill email him with directions to get here, then.




These designs need to go to Norton Smiths office in Guidford today. Theyve got a fax machine there, (6) .. ?

Yes, but its not working. Ill send the documents to them by first class post.

Itd be quicker if you send it by courier, (7) .. ?



Oh, yes. Ill sort that out now.




This quote for the parts is much cheaper than the other one we had, (8) .. ?

Yes, much. Its very strange. They havent forgotten to include delivery costs, (9) .. ?

No, everything is included in the price.




Really? It all looks too good to be true, (10) .. ?

Um, yes, well, lets give them a try anyway.



Exercise 4 (B)


Choose the most likely reply in each situation. Put a tick (√).


1 If I go to Italy, Im going to have problems with the language. a) Of course. You speak Italian, dont you? 

b) Of course. You dont speak Italian, do you? 



Its time to face up to your responsibilities.

(= not avoid)

2 In the meeting you said that our competitors had a better product than us. a) What! I said that, didnt I? 

b) What! I didnt say that, did I? 

3 I havent seen Ann for ages, I think shes working abroad.

a) Yes, thats right. Shes got a job in Spain, hasnt she? 

b) Yes, thats right. She hasnt get a job in Spain, has she? 

4 The deadline for the project is Friday and theres still so much work to do.

a) Its not looking good. Were going to make the deadline, arent we? 

b) Its not looking good. Were not going to make the deadline, are we? 

5 Do you mind if I help myself to some more couscous?

a) No, of course not. You like Moroccan food, dont you? 

b) No, of course not. You dont like Moroccan food, do you? 

6 We have to be at the airport at nine.

a) You will be late, wont you? 

b) You wont be late, will you? 



If its not successful, we can fall back on plan B.

(= use if necessary)

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