Question Tag Intonation

Listen to two different versions of this statement – how does the meaning change each time?

You’re a famous actor, aren’t you?
The question tag ‘aren’t you’ was said with falling intonation the first time and rising intonation the second time.

How does intonation affect the meaning of a question tag?

  • A question tag said with falling intonation ↘ means ‘I know what I am saying is correct’.
  • A question tag said with rising intonation ↗ means ‘I’m not sure if this is true, please answer’.


↘ Falling Intonation

↗Rising intonation:


Listen to each sentence – is the speaker sure of her facts, or is she asking for an answer?

A. We go left in 500 metres, don’t we?
B. You weren’t really going to say that, were you?
C. They left the kids at Jenny’s place, didn’t they?
D. This ham is the best in the world, isn’t it?
E. But we can’t combine these two processes, can we?
F. Keith hasn’t lost his wallet again, has he?
G. We won’t let them knock it down, will we?
H. Marion could have done it, couldn’t she?

A. Sure of facts B. Asking for an answer C. Asking for an answer D. Sure of facts E. Sure of facts F. Asking for an answer G. Sure of facts H. Asking for an answer
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