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Formal and Informal language: Use Question Tags

In this worksheet, students identify sentences with question tags and think about when to use them in their writing.

'Formal and Informal language: Use Question Tags' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:   Writing: Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation

Curriculum subtopic:   Formal Speech Awareness

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Question tags are questions that are added to the end of a statement.

You like football, don't you?

We're going to watch Arsenal on Saturday, aren't we?

Jack's coming too, isn't he?

 

We use question tags a lot when we are talking to each other, but they are not appropriate in formal, written language. In formal situations we need to structure questions in a different way.

 

You've posted the letter, haven't you? (informal)

Have you posted the letter? (formal)

 

In this worksheet you can practise identifying question tags and thinking about when they can be used.

Look at the sentence below and decide whether it contains a question tag.

 

The new library is opening tomorrow, isn't it?

The sentence contains a question tag.

The sentence does not contain a question tag.

Does the following sentence contain a question tag?

 

Do you wish to proceed with the investigation?

The sentence contains a question tag.

The sentence does not contain a question tag.

This time, match the informal sentences with formal ones that have a similar meaning.

Column A

Column B

Do you like pizza?
You like pizza, don't you?
Do you wish to come to the theatre with me?
I can go now, can't I?
Has Peter completed his homework?
You want to come to the theatre with me, don't you...
Please may I leave the room?
Peter's finished his homework, hasn't he?

Again, match the formal and informal sentences.

Column A

Column B

Is it time to go home?
She wants to leave the club, doesn't she?
Does she wish to stop attending the club?
It's home time, isn't it?
Has everybody finished eating now?
Jonny's getting there on his own, isn't he?
Is Jonny travelling to the match on his own?
Everyone's finished their meal, haven't they?

We sometimes use question tags when we are not really asking a question at all. Look at the following sentence.

 

'Its a lovely day, isn't it?' Josie said to Amy.

 

Josie isn't really asking Amy if it is a lovely day or not. She is simply stating that she thinks it is a lovely day, but it sounds more friendly and chatty with a question tag on the end.

 

We use our tone of voice to show whether a question tag is really a question or not. Try saying the following sentence out loud.

 

Jack's coming round tonight, isn't he?

 

If you make your voice go up at the end it sounds like a question. (You don't know whether Jack is coming or not so you are asking.) However, if you make your voice go down at the end then it sounds like a statement. (You know that Jack is definitely coming and you are saying it in an informal, chatty way.)

 

Read the following sentence out loud and make your voice drop (go down) at the end. What does the sentence mean?

 

Katie came top in the test, didn't she?

You don't know whether Katie came top or not so you are asking someone.

You already know that Katie came top and you are stating this in an informal, friendly way.

Now read the following sentence out loud and make your voice rise (go up) at the end.

 

The test isn't tomorrow, is it?

You don't know whether the test is tomorrow or not, so you are asking.

You already know that the test isn't tomorrow and you are stating it in an informal way.

Imagine you are writing an email to your best friend, who is away in India at the moment. Is it appropriate to use question tags?

Question tags are appropriate.

Question tags are not appropriate.

Is it appropriate to use question tags if you are writing a letter to apply for a job?

Question tags are appropriate.

Question tags are not appropriate.

Is it appropriate to use question tags if you are writing a story at school?

It is never appropriate to use question tags in story writing.

It is sometimes appropriate to use question tags in story writing.

It is always appropriate to use question tags in story writing.

Is it appropriate to use question tags in non-fiction writing?

It is never appropriate to use question tags in non-fiction writing.

It is sometimes appropriate to use question tags in non-fiction writing.

It is always appropriate to use question tags in non-fiction writing.

  • Question 1

Look at the sentence below and decide whether it contains a question tag.

 

The new library is opening tomorrow, isn't it?

CORRECT ANSWER
The sentence contains a question tag.
EDDIE SAYS
The sentence ends with the question tag 'isn't it?'.
  • Question 2

Does the following sentence contain a question tag?

 

Do you wish to proceed with the investigation?

CORRECT ANSWER
The sentence does not contain a question tag.
EDDIE SAYS
This is a very formal sentence with no question tag.
  • Question 3

This time, match the informal sentences with formal ones that have a similar meaning.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Do you like pizza?
You like pizza, don't you?
Do you wish to come to the theatr...
You want to come to the theatre w...
Has Peter completed his homework?
Peter's finished his homework, ha...
Please may I leave the room?
I can go now, can't I?
EDDIE SAYS
The formal sentences have no question tags, and they tend to use more formal vocabulary as well.
  • Question 4

Again, match the formal and informal sentences.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

Is it time to go home?
It's home time, isn't it?
Does she wish to stop attending t...
She wants to leave the club, does...
Has everybody finished eating now...
Everyone's finished their meal, h...
Is Jonny travelling to the match ...
Jonny's getting there on his own,...
EDDIE SAYS
Again, the informal questions use question tags and more informal vocabulary.
  • Question 5

We sometimes use question tags when we are not really asking a question at all. Look at the following sentence.

 

'Its a lovely day, isn't it?' Josie said to Amy.

 

Josie isn't really asking Amy if it is a lovely day or not. She is simply stating that she thinks it is a lovely day, but it sounds more friendly and chatty with a question tag on the end.

 

We use our tone of voice to show whether a question tag is really a question or not. Try saying the following sentence out loud.

 

Jack's coming round tonight, isn't he?

 

If you make your voice go up at the end it sounds like a question. (You don't know whether Jack is coming or not so you are asking.) However, if you make your voice go down at the end then it sounds like a statement. (You know that Jack is definitely coming and you are saying it in an informal, chatty way.)

 

Read the following sentence out loud and make your voice drop (go down) at the end. What does the sentence mean?

 

Katie came top in the test, didn't she?

CORRECT ANSWER
You already know that Katie came top and you are stating this in an informal, friendly way.
EDDIE SAYS
If you use a question tag with your voice dropping at the end it means that you are not really asking a question but stating something that you already know.
  • Question 6

Now read the following sentence out loud and make your voice rise (go up) at the end.

 

The test isn't tomorrow, is it?

CORRECT ANSWER
You don't know whether the test is tomorrow or not, so you are asking.
EDDIE SAYS
If you use question tags with your voice rising at the end then you are asking a question.
  • Question 7

Imagine you are writing an email to your best friend, who is away in India at the moment. Is it appropriate to use question tags?

CORRECT ANSWER
Question tags are appropriate.
EDDIE SAYS
An email to a friend is an informal situation, so it is fine to use question tags.
  • Question 8

Is it appropriate to use question tags if you are writing a letter to apply for a job?

CORRECT ANSWER
Question tags are not appropriate.
EDDIE SAYS
A job application is a formal situation so it would not be appropriate to use question tags.
  • Question 9

Is it appropriate to use question tags if you are writing a story at school?

CORRECT ANSWER
It is sometimes appropriate to use question tags in story writing.
EDDIE SAYS
If your story contains direct speech, then the words said by the characters may well include question tags. If your story is written in the first person with a narrator, the narrator may use question tags to make it sound as if he or she is talking directly to the reader.
  • Question 10

Is it appropriate to use question tags in non-fiction writing?

CORRECT ANSWER
It is sometimes appropriate to use question tags in non-fiction writing.
EDDIE SAYS
Persuasive texts often contain question tags as a way of drawing in the reader. For example: 'The new factory will pollute the air, and you don't want your children breathing in toxic fumes, do you?' However, formal reports and explanations should not contain question tags.
---- OR ----

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