A question tag (also known as question tail) is a grammatical structure in which a declarative or an imperative statement is turned into a question by the addition of an interrogative fragment (the "tag"). For example, in the sentence "You're John, aren't you?", the statement "You're John" is turned into a question by the tag "aren't you".
The term "question tag" is generally preferred by British grammarians, while their American counterparts prefer "tag question".
In most languages, tag questions are more common in colloquial spoken usage than in formal written usage. They can be an indicator of politeness, hedging, consensus seeking, emphasis and irony. They may suggest confidence or lack of confidence; they may be confrontational, defensive or tentative. Although they have the grammatical form of a question, they may be rhetorical (not expecting an answer). In other cases, when they do expect a response, they may differ from straightforward questions in that they cue the listener as to what response is desired. In legal settings, tag questions can often be found in a leading question. According to a specialist children's lawyer at the NSPCC, children find it difficult to answer tag questions other than in accordance with the expectation of the questioner using or tagging a question.
Question tags are formed in several ways, and many languages give a choice of formation. In some languages the most common is a single word or fixed phrase, whereas in others it is formed by a regular grammatical construction.
In many languages, the question tag is a simple positive or negative. Russian allows да? (yes) whereas Spanish and Italian use ¿no? and no? respectively. In Indonesian, sometimes ya? (yes) is used but it is more common to say kan?, which probably is a contraction of bukan (negation for nouns).
Another common formation is comparable to the English correct? or the informal form right?, though more often realised as the word for true or truth, in fact, such as in Polish prawda?, Slovak pravda? or the particle však?, or Spanish ¿verdad?, which in turn can be presented in a negative form (not true?), such as in the Polish nieprawdaż?, German nicht wahr? or Lithuanian ar ne?.
A plain conjunction may be used, such as the Czech and Slovak že? (that). Various other words occur in specific languages, such as German oder? (or), Slovak či? (or, colloquialism), and the Mandarin Chinese 吗 ma (literally what but never used in the way English uses that word).
Another pattern is to combine affirmation and negation, as can be done in Chinese, for example as 對不對 duì bù duì (correct / not correct).
Some languages have words whose only function is as a question tag. In Scots and certain dialects of English, eh? functions this way. French has hein?, Southern German dialects have gell? (derived from a verb meaning to be valid) and Portuguese has né? (actually a colloquial contraction of não é, literally isn't it, while é?, pronounced much like English eh?, would have a different intended meaning, that of English right?).
In several languages, the tag question is built around the standard interrogative form. In English and the Celtic languages, this interrogative agrees with the verb in the main clause, whereas in other languages the structure has fossilised into a fixed form, such as the French n'est-ce pas ? (literally "isn't it?").
Grammatically productive tag forms are formed in the same way as simple questions, referring back to the verb in the main clause and agreeing in time and person (where the language has such agreement). The tag may include a pronoun, such as in English, or may not, as is the case in Scottish Gaelic. If the rules of forming interrogatives require it, the verb in the tag may be an auxiliary, as in English.
In most languages, a tag question is set off from the sentence by a comma(,). In Spanish, where the beginnings of questions are marked with an inverted question mark, it is only the tag, not the whole sentence, which is placed within the question bracket:
English tag questions, when they have the grammatical form of a question, are atypically complex, because they vary according to at least three factors: the choice of auxiliary, the negation and the intonation pattern. This is unique among the Germanic languages, but the Celtic languages operate in a very similar way. For the theory that English has borrowed its system of tag questions from Brittonic, see Brittonicisms in English.
The English tag question is made up of an auxiliary verb and a pronoun. The auxiliary must agree with the tense, aspect and modality of the verb in the preceding sentence. If the verb is in the present perfect, for example, the tag question uses has or have; if the verb is in a present progressive form, the tag is formed with am, are, is; if the verb is in a tense which does not normally use an auxiliary, like the present simple, the auxiliary is taken from the emphatic do form; and if the sentence has a modal auxiliary, this is echoed in the tag:
A special case occurs when the main verb is to be in a simple tense. Here the tag question repeats the main verb, not an auxiliary:
English question tags exist in both positive and negative forms. When there is no special emphasis, the rule of thumb often applies that a positive sentence has a negative tag and vice versa. This form may express confidence, or seek confirmation of the asker's opinion or belief.
These are referred to as balanced tag questions.
Unbalanced tag questions feature a positive statement with a positive tag, or a negative statement with a negative tag; it has been estimated that in normal conversation, as many as 40–50% of tags are unbalanced. Unbalanced tag questions may be used for ironic or confrontational effects:
Unbalanced tags also occur when shall is used to ask for confirmation of a suggestion:
Patterns of negation can show regional variations. In North East Scotland, for example, positive to positive is used when no special effect is desired:
Note the following variations in the negation when the auxiliary is the I form of the copula:
English tag questions can have a rising or a falling intonation pattern. This can be contrasted with Polish, French or German, for example, where all tags rise, or with the Celtic languages, where all fall. As a rule, the English rising pattern is used when soliciting information or motivating an action, that is, when some sort of response is required. Since normal English yes/no questions have rising patterns (e.g. Are you coming?), these tags make a grammatical statement into a real question:
The falling pattern is used to underline a statement. The statement itself ends with a falling pattern, and the tag sounds like an echo, strengthening the pattern. Most English tag questions have this falling pattern.
Sometimes the rising tag goes with the positive to positive pattern to create a confrontational effect:
Sometimes the same words may have different patterns depending on the situation or implication.
As an all-purpose tag the Multicultural London English set-phrase innit (for "isn't it") is only used with falling patterns:
On the other hand, the adverbial tag questions (alright? OK? etc.) are almost always found with rising patterns. An occasional exception is surely.
Besides the standard form based on auxiliary verbs, there are other forms specific to particular regions or dialects of English. These are generally invariant, regardless of verb, person or negativity.
The tag right? is common in a number of dialects across the UK and US, as well as in Indian English. It is an example of an invariable tag which is preferred in American English over traditional tags.
The tag eh? is of Scottish origin, and can be heard across much of Scotland, New Zealand, Canada and the North-Eastern United States. In Central Scotland (in and around Stirling and Falkirk), this exists in the form eh no? which is again invariant.
The tag or? is used commonly in the North-Eastern United States and other regions to make offers less imposing. These questions could always logically be completed by stating the opposite of the offer, though this effect is understood intuitively by native speakers. For example:
Like English, the Celtic languages form tag questions by echoing the verb of the main sentence. The Goidelic languages, however, make little or no use of auxiliary verbs, so that it is generally the main verb itself which reappears in the tag. As in English, the tendency is to have a negative tag after a positive sentence and vice versa, but unbalanced tags are also possible. Some examples from Scottish Gaelic:
(Here, eil and fhaca are dependent forms of the irregular verbs tha and chunnaic.)
In Welsh, a special particle on is used to introduce tag questions, which are then followed by the inflected form of a verb. Unlike English and the Goidelic languages, Welsh prefers a positive tag after a positive statement, and negative after negative. With the auxiliary bod, it is the inflected form of bod that is used:
With inflected non-preterite forms, the inflected form of the verb is used:
With preterite and perfect forms, the invariable do (also the affirmative answer to these questions) is used:
When a non-verbal element is being questioned, the question particle ai is used:
The Awaji dialect (淡路方言, Awaji hōgen), also called Awaji ben (淡路弁), is a dialect of Japanese spoken on Awaji Island (which comprises the cities of Sumoto, Minamiawaji, and Awaji) in the southern part of Hyōgo Prefecture. According to the introduction of "Comprehensive Study of the Kinki Region," a publication of the National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics (NINJAL), titled "Subgroupings of the Kinki Dialects", the Awaji Dialect straddles the Central (typified by the pronunciation of the mora /se/ as [ɕe], use of the copula =ja, a distinction between the perfect and progressive aspects, and a migration of the monograde verb classes to the quadrigrade class) and Western Kansai dialect regions. The dialect shares many features with the dialects of the cities of Osaka, Kobe, and Wakayama, which is shares the Osaka Bay with, as well as with that of Tokushima Prefecture, which exercised control (as Awa Province) over Awaji Island during the feudal period. On the other hand, it bears little resemblance to the Banshū dialect, spoken right across the Akashi Strait from the island.Banshū dialect
The Banshū dialect (播州弁, Banshū-ben), also called the Harima dialect (播磨弁・方言, Harima-ben/-hōgen), is a Japanese dialect spoken in the Harima region (corresponding to the boundaries of the former Harima Province) of southwestern Hyōgo Prefecture. Although it is included in the Kansai dialect group, it shares much of its vocabulary with Chūgoku group. It can be further subdivided into the Western Banshū dialect (西播方言, Seiban-hōgen) and the Eastern Banshū dialect (東播方言, Tōban-hōgen).Discourse marker
A discourse marker is a word or a phrase that plays a role in managing the flow and structure of discourse. Since their main function is at the level of discourse (sequences of utterances) rather than at the level of utterances or sentences, discourse markers are relatively syntax-independent and usually do not change the truth conditional meaning of the sentence. Examples of discourse markers include the particles oh, well, now, then, you know, and I mean, and the discourse connectives so, because, and, but, and or. The term discourse marker was coined by Deborah Schiffrin in her 1988 book Discourse Markers.Dutch language
Dutch (Nederlands ) is a West Germanic language spoken by around 24 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands (where it is the sole official language countrywide) and Belgium (as one of three official languages). It is the third-most-widely spoken Germanic language, after its close relatives English and German.
Outside the Low Countries, it is the native language of the majority of the population of Suriname where it also holds an official status, as it does in Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, which are constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands located in the Caribbean. Historical linguistic minorities on the verge of extinction remain in parts of France and Germany, and in Indonesia, while up to half a million native speakers may reside in the United States, Canada and Australia combined. The Cape Dutch dialects of Southern Africa have evolved into Afrikaans, a mutually intelligible daughter language which is spoken to some degree by at least 16 million people, mainly in South Africa and Namibia.Dutch is one of the closest relatives of both German and English and is colloquially said to be "roughly in between" them. Dutch, like English, has not undergone the High German consonant shift, does not use Germanic umlaut as a grammatical marker, has largely abandoned the use of the subjunctive, and has levelled much of its morphology, including most of its case system. Features shared with German include the survival of two to three grammatical genders—albeit with few grammatical consequences—as well as the use of modal particles, final-obstruent devoicing, and a similar word order. Dutch vocabulary is mostly Germanic and incorporates slightly more Romance loans than German but far fewer than English. As with German, the vocabulary of Dutch also has strong similarities with the continental Scandinavian languages, but is not mutually intelligible in text or speech with any of them.Eh
Eh ( or ) is a spoken interjection in English that is similar in meaning to "Excuse me?," "Please repeat that", or "Huh?". It is also commonly used as an alternative to the question tag right?, i.e., method for inciting a reply, as in "It's nice here, eh?" (instead of "It's nice here, right?"). In North America, it is most commonly associated with Canada and Canadian English, and with Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Similar interjections exist in other languages, such as Dutch, Azerbaijani, Armenian, Hokkien Chinese, Japanese, French, Finnish, Italian, Greek, Hebrew, Malay, Spanish, Persian, Portuguese, Arabic, Turkish, Korean, Catalan and Filipino.
The spelling of this sound in English is quite different from the common usage of these letters. The vowel is sounded in one of the continental manners, and the letter h is used to indicate it is long, as though the origin of the spelling were German.
It is an invariant question tag, unlike the "is it?" and "have you?" tags that have, with the insertion of not, different construction in positive and negative questions.Georgian grammar
The Georgian language belongs to the Kartvelian family. Georgian grammar is remarkably different from European languages and has many distinct features, such as split ergativity and a polypersonal verb agreement system.
Georgian has its own alphabet. In this article, a transliteration with Latin letters will be used throughout.Hawaii
Hawaii ( (listen) hə-WY-ee; Hawaiian: Hawaiʻi [həˈvɐjʔi]) is a state of the United States of America. It is the only state located in the Pacific Ocean and the only state composed entirely of islands.
The state encompasses nearly the entire Hawaiian archipelago, 137 islands spread over 1,500 miles (2,400 km). The volcanic archipelago is physiographically and ethnologically part of the Polynesian subregion of Oceania. At the southeastern end of the archipelago, the eight main islands are, in order from northwest to southeast: Niʻihau, Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Maui, and Hawaiʻi. The last is the largest island in the group; it is often called the "Big Island" or "Hawaiʻi Island" to avoid confusion with the state or archipelago.
Hawaii is the 8th smallest geographically and the 11th least populous, but the 13th most densely populated of the 50 states. It is the only state with an Asian American plurality. Hawaii has over 1.4 million permanent residents, along with many visitors and U.S. military personnel. The state capital and largest city is Honolulu on the island of Oʻahu. The state's ocean coastline is about 750 miles (1,210 km) long, the fourth longest in the U.S., after the coastlines of Alaska, Florida, and California. Hawaii is the most recent state to join the union, on August 21, 1959. It was an independent nation until 1898.
Hawaii's diverse natural scenery, warm tropical climate, abundance of public beaches, oceanic surroundings, and active volcanoes make it a popular destination for tourists, surfers, biologists, and volcanologists. Because of its central location in the Pacific and 19th-century labor migration, Hawaii's culture is strongly influenced by North American and East Asian cultures, in addition to its indigenous Hawaiian culture.Hedge (linguistics)
In applied linguistics and pragmatics (sub-fields of linguistics), hedges allow speakers and writers to signal caution, or probability, versus full certainty. Hedges might be used in writing, for example, to downplay a harsh critique or a generalization, or in speaking, for instance, to lessen the impact of an utterance due to politeness constraints between a speaker and addressee. Typically, hedges are adjectives or adverbs, but can also consist of clauses such as one use of tag questions. In some cases, a hedge could be regarded as a form of euphemism. Linguists consider hedges to be tools of epistemic modality; allowing speakers and writers to signal a level of caution in making an assertion. Hedges are also used to distinguish items into multiple categories, where items can be in a certain category to an extent.Interrogative
An interrogative sentence is a sentence that asks a question. The term is used in grammar to refer to features that form questions. Thus, an interrogative sentence is a sentence whose grammatical form shows that it is a question. Such sentences may exhibit an interrogative grammatical mood. This applies particularly to languages that use different inflected verb forms to make questions.
Interrogative sentences can serve as yes–no questions or as wh-questions, the latter being formed using an interrogative word such as who, which, where or how to specify the information required. Different languages have various ways of forming questions, such as word order or the insertion of interrogative particles. Questions are frequently marked by intonation, in particular a rising intonation pattern – in some languages this may be the sole method of distinguishing a yes–no question from a declarative statement.
Interrogative mood or other interrogative forms may be denoted by the glossing abbreviation INT.Kansai dialect
The Kansai dialect (関西弁, Kansai-ben, also known as Kansai hōgen (関西方言)) is a group of Japanese dialects in the Kansai region (Kinki region) of Japan. In Japanese, Kansai-ben is the common name and it is called Kinki dialect (近畿方言, Kinki hōgen) in technical terms. The dialects of Kyoto and Osaka, especially in the Edo period, are also called Kamigata dialect (上方言葉, Kamigata kotoba, or Kamigata-go (上方語)). The Kansai dialect is typified by the speech of Osaka, the major city of Kansai, which is referred to specifically as Osaka-ben. It is characterized as being both more melodic and harsher by speakers of the standard language.Languages of Wales
The two official languages of Wales are English and Welsh. English is the primary official language, able to be used in all situations whereas Welsh only has official status in limited but significant situations as defined by legislation. Both languages, for example, have equal status within the National Assembly. Almost the entire population of Wales is able to speak English, and around a quarter can speak Welsh, to varying levels of fluency..Multicultural London English
Multicultural London English (abbreviated MLE) is a sociolect of English that emerged in the late twentieth century. It is spoken authentically by mainly young working class people in London (although there is evidence to suggest that certain features are spreading further afield). According to research conducted at Lancaster University and Queen Mary University of London in 2010, "In much of the East End of London the Cockney dialect... will have disappeared within another generation.... it will be gone [from the East End] within 30 years.... It has been 'transplanted' to... [Essex and Hertfordshire New] towns."As the label suggests, speakers of MLE come from a wide variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and live in diverse inner-city neighbourhoods such as Brent, Lambeth and Hackney. As a result, it can be regarded as a multiethnolect. One study was unable "to isolate distinct (discrete) ethnic styles" in their data on phonetics and quotatives in Hackney and commented that the "differences between ethnicities, where they exist, are quantitative in nature". In fact, they find that it is diversity of friendship groups that is most important; the more ethnically diverse an adolescent's friendship networks are, the more likely it is that they will speak MLE.In the press, MLE is sometimes referred to as "Jafaican", conveying the idea of "fake Jamaican", because of popular belief that it stems from immigrants of Jamaican and Caribbean descent. However, research suggests that the roots of MLE are much more complex. Two Economic and Social Research Council funded research projects found that MLE has most likely developed as a result of language contact and group second language acquisition. Specifically, it can contain elements from "learners' varieties of English, Englishes from the Indian subcontinent and Africa, Caribbean creoles and Englishes along with their indigenised London versions (Sebba 1993), local London and south-eastern vernacular varieties of English, local and international youth slang, as well as more levelled and standard-like varieties from various sources."Sentence-final particle
Sentence-final particles, including modal particles, interactional particles, etc., are minimal lexemes (words) that occur at the end of a sentence and that do not carry referential meaning, but may relate to linguistic modality, register or other pragmatic effects. Sentence-final particles are common in Chinese, including particles such as Mandarin le 了, ne 呢, ba 吧, ou 哦, a 啊, la 啦, ya 呀, and ma 嗎/吗, and Cantonese lo 囉 and ge 嘅. These particles act as qualifiers of the clause or sentence they end. Sentence-final particles are also present in Japanese and many East Asian languages, such as Thai, and especially in languages that have undergone heavy Sino-Tibetan influence, such as the Monguor languages.Small talk
Small talk is an informal type of discourse that does not cover any functional topics of conversation or any transactions that need to be addressed.The phenomenon of small talk was initially studied in 1923 by Bronisław Malinowski, who coined the term "phatic communication" to describe it. The ability to conduct small talk is a social skill; hence, small talk is some type of social communication.Subject (grammar)
The subject in a simple English sentence such as John runs, John is a teacher, or John was run over by a car is the person or thing about whom the statement is made, in this case John. Traditionally the subject is the word or phrase which controls the verb in the clause, that is to say with which the verb agrees (John is but John and Mary are). If there is no verb, as in John - what an idiot!, or if the verb has a different subject, as in John - I can't stand him!, then 'John' is not considered to be the grammatical subject, but can be described as the topic of the sentence.
While these definitions apply to simple English sentences, defining the subject is more difficult in more complex sentences, and in languages other than English. For example, in the sentence It is difficult to learn French, the subject seems to be the word it, and yet arguably the real subject (the thing that is difficult) is to learn French. A sentence such as It was John who broke the window is more complex still. Sentences beginning with a locative phrase, such as There is a problem, isn't there?, in which the tag question isn't there? seems to imply that the subject is the adverb there, also create difficulties for the definition of subject.In languages such as Latin or German the subject of a verb has a form which is known as the nominative case: for example, the form 'he' (not 'him' or 'his') is used in sentences such as he ran, he broke the window, he is a teacher, he was hit by a car. But there are some languages such as Basque or Greenlandic, in which the form of a noun or pronoun when the verb is intransitive (he ran) is different from when the verb is transitive (he broke the window). In these languages, which are known as ergative languages, the concept of subject may not apply at all.Verb phrase ellipsis
In linguistics, verb phrase ellipsis (VP-ellipsis or VPE) is an elliptical construction in which a non-finite verb phrase has been left out (elided), e.g. She will sell sea shells, and he will sell sea shells too. VP-ellipsis is a well-studied kind of ellipsis, particularly with regard to its occurrence in English, although certain types can be found in other languages as well.Welsh English
Welsh English comprises the dialects of English spoken by Welsh people. The dialects are significantly influenced by Welsh grammar and often include words derived from Welsh. In addition to the distinctive words and grammar, a variety of accents are found across Wales, including those of North Wales, the Cardiff dialect, the South Wales Valleys and west Wales.
Accents and dialects in the west of Wales have been more heavily influenced by the Welsh language while dialects in the east have been influenced more by dialects in England. In the east and south east, it has been influenced by West Country and West Midland dialects while in north east Wales and parts of the North Wales coast, it has been influenced by Merseyside English.
A colloquial portmanteau word for Welsh English is Wenglish. It has been in use since 1985.Yorkshire dialect
The Yorkshire dialect (also known as Broad Yorkshire, Tyke, Yorkie or Yorkshire English) is an English dialect of Northern England spoken in the English county of Yorkshire. The dialect has roots in older languages such as Old English and Old Norse. The Yorkshire Dialect Society exists to promote use of the dialect in both humour and in serious linguistics; there is also an East Riding Dialect Society.
Yorkshire is generally not as stigmatised as other regional dialects, and has been represented in classic works of literature such as Wuthering Heights, Nicholas Nickleby and The Secret Garden. Studies have shown that accents in the West Riding (that is, mostly, modern West and South Yorkshire) are well-liked among Britons and associated with common sense, loyalty, and reliability.