Unusual Question Tag Intonation
We’ve previously covered standard question tags on The Sound of English – the kind used to make a statement into a question. But there are other, less common kinds of tag in English – listen to the following questions. What is the purpose of each question tag?
Let’s eat at the Italian place tonight, shall we?You were at home at the time of the crime, were you?Turn that music down, will you?The first question tag is used to make a suggestion.
The second question tag is used to show interest or suspicion.
The third question tag is used to form an instruction.
What is the structure of these question tags?
- All of these question tags use rising intonation.
- To make a suggestion, use ‘Let’s…..↗shall we?’
- To show interest or suspicion, use a positive statement + ↗positive question tag.
- To form and soften an instruction, use an imperative statement + ↗‘will, can, could’ or other modal.
Suggestions:Let’s go to Botswana, ↗shall we?Let’s change the script, ↗shall we?
Interest:So she turned him down, ↗did she?!We share 50% of our DNA with bananas, ↗do we?
Suspicion:You lot have been ‘studying’ in the pub, ↗have you?So she’s just a friend, ↗is she?
Instruction:Give me a hand lifting this, ↗will you?Hold the door for a second, ↗could you?
Add a suitable tag to each sentence:
A. (suggestion) Let’s buy some more gin, …..?
B. (instruction) Just leave it alone, …..?
C. (suspicion) She went to meet ‘Julie’, …..?
D. (interest) It’s the tallest structure in the Middle East, …..?
E. (instruction) Close that window, …..?
F. (interest) There are 2 million cyclists here, …..?
G. (suggestion) Let’s fly out to Goa, …..?
H. (suspicion) He wants you to lend him more money, …..?
A. shall we?
B. will you? (or other modal)
C. did she?
D. is it?
E. could you? (or other modal)
F. are there?
G. shall we?
H. does he?