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    • Join Date: Jul 2007
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    #1

    What do we use a tag question for?

    What do we use a tag question for?

  1. Hi_there_Carl's Avatar

    • Join Date: Aug 2007
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    #2

    Re: What do we use a tag question for?

    We use tag questions at the end of statements to ask for confirmation. They mean something like: "Am I right?" or "Do you agree?" They are very common in English.


    • Join Date: Jul 2007
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    #3

    Re: What do we use a tag question for?

    So if we say:" The girl is very cute, isn't she?", is it equal to" Is the girl cute?"

  2. Hi_there_Carl's Avatar

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    #4

    Re: What do we use a tag question for?

    No not exactly... question tags are usually rhetorical... IMHO


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
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    #5

    Re: What do we use a tag question for?

    Quote Originally Posted by belly_ttt View Post
    So if we say:" The girl is very cute, isn't she?", is it equal to" Is the girl cute?"
    Carl's right in that tags are not real questions and yet they are. The difference is that with the tag, the speaker wants you to do what Carl said, agree with them. In a "real" question, the speaker is ASKING for info, and is happy to hear a yes or a no reply.

    Obviously, there is a range of "sureness" in differing situations. In some, the speaker may not be expecting any reply, could care less if "you" agreed or not. In his mind, the girl is cute and the tag is rhetorical. In other situations, the speaker may, hmmmmm, might, hmmmmm [for Edward], be looking for, desperately seeking confirmation.

    Try to remember, Belly and all ESLs that a certain number of limited structures have to cover an infinite number of human emotions/situations, so any given structure can cover a lot of ground; these minor differences are what's known as, [something you already know], nuance.


    • Join Date: Jul 2007
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    #6

    Re: What do we use a tag question for?

    SO, it is a rhetorical question, thanks both Carl and Riverkid. So, how about" Don't you think that girl is cute?", I consider it a rhetorical question, too and thus, it is equal to the tag question?


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
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    #7

    Re: What do we use a tag question for?

    Quote Originally Posted by belly_ttt View Post
    SO, it is a rhetorical question, thanks both Carl and Riverkid. So, how about" Don't you think that girl is cute?", I consider it a rhetorical question, too and thus, it is equal to the tag question?
    No, Belly, it's an indirect question, but it addresses the issue as a question, meaning that the speaker is leaning towards a reply that could be yes or no. If we put it on a scale, then this indirect question is between a direct question and a tag question.

    However, what you've stated/asked about could certainly follow, because, as I mentioned, there are a limited number of collocations available in any language, to state an infinite number of possibilities.

  3. Hi_there_Carl's Avatar

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    #8

    Re: What do we use a tag question for?

    If we say:" The girl is very cute, isn't she?", it is equal to "Do you agree that the girl is cute?"

  4. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
    • Posts: 1,552
    #9

    Re: What do we use a tag question for?

    Here's a nuance that hasn't been mentioned yet.

    We have the pattern: Statement, tag?

    Now, both statement and tag can be either positive or negative. That can change the nuance:

    If the statement is positive and the tag negative, or the statement is negative and the tag positive; and the tag is pronounced with falling intonation, the speaker expects the other person to agree:

    The earth goes around the sun, doesn't it?
    The sun doesn't go around the earth, does it?

    Often, this can be used to try to elicit a confession of some sort:

    You murdered Mr Brown, didn't you?
    You didn't do your homework, did you?

    Some linguists actually consider the question mark to be incorrect here, because although the tag is constructed like a question, it is not a real question at all. So sometimes you may see the tag in this case written without a question mark:

    Britain is an island, isn't it.

    Although I personally dislike this idea, it is useful to distinguish between this case and the next case:

    -----

    If the statement is positive and the tag negative, or the statement is negative and the tag positive; and the tag is pronounced with rising intonation, the speaker is unsure as to whether the statement is correct, and is actually asking the other person to either confirm the statement or correct it. Because this is a real question, it should always have a question mark:

    Sean Connery is from Scotland, isn't he? (Rising intonation: I think Sean Connery is Scottish, but I'm not certain.)
    Monday isn't a public holiday, is it? (I don't think Monday is a pubic holiday, but I'm not certain.)

    -----

    If both statement and tag are positive, this indicates disbelief, surprise, anger or (perhaps less often) a sense of inevitability, or some other emotion:

    You're 150 years old, are you? (Disbelief)
    It's 10 o'clock already, is it? (Surprise)
    You stole the money, did you? (Anger)
    And then I suppose it all went wrong, did it? (Inevitability)

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