'tail' questions (question tags)


…, isn’t it?
…, do you?

Actually, they are not questions, because usually no answer is required.

It means ‘a star’, doesn’t it?
It means ‘a star’, does it not?

Are they exactly the same and the difference only formal, or the second is a real question?


Hi Tamara,

The uncontracted, if you like, version does it not is merely an emphatic form when you are expecting a definite response from the other person.

An example:

I’m right, aren’t I ? (the usual tag)

I’m right, am I not ? is seeking a definite: Well, yes you are or No, you are not.


Hi Alan,

So, when the uncontracted form is used, it would be wrong ( not empathic, not polite,…) NOT to give a (definite, expected) answer

That is what I suspected. :slight_smile:

Thank you, Alan.

In North America, if you use the uncontracted form, people will think you’re deliberately trying to sound medieval.

I also think that in North America people usually expect an answer when they use a tag question. I notice that the British use them a lot when they don’t expect or even want an answer.