There is a sentence I am a genius, what should be the question tag? I am a genius, am I? Or I am a genius, aren't I?

I've surfed the Internet and it says aren't I but why arent? I do not understand.

And where can we say am I?


You have good reason to be confused. There is nothing wrong with "am I" as a question tag. However, question tags attached to positive statements are most frequently formed as negative interrogatives. So

I am a genius, am I not

is also grammatical and follows the more usual negative interrogative form. HOWEVER...

Question tags are far more common in spoken English than in written English. And in spoken English, contractions abound. There is, however, no generally accepted contraction for "am not" in modern English. (For more information, see the wikipedia entry for "ain't.") So, in speech and informal writing, "aren't I" is used as an accepted substitute for a true contraction of "am I not" although "are" and "am" are obviously different words. It is just one more irregularity to be learned for that most irregular of verbs "be."

EDIT: I want to clarify that "aren't" is not generally used as a substitute for a contraction of "am." In affirmative statements, "I am" has an accepted contraction in "I'm." In negative statements, "I am not" has an accepted contraction in "I'm not." In affirmative questions, "are I" is not grammatical at all. In negative questions, "are I not" is not grammatical. It is only in negative questions that "aren't I" is an accepted substitute for a true contraction of "am I not."

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  • Amn't is used in many Scottish and Irish dialects, almost exclusively in question tags, but you're correct that most English speakers don't have a contraction for "am not". – Canadian Yankee Jan 28 '19 at 21:32
  • @CanadianYankee I have never been sure whether Lallands even is English. Of course, I am not sure that Yorkshire is English either. I am so parochial. – Jeff Morrow Jan 29 '19 at 1:54

Question tags are mini-questions that we often put on the end of a sentence. In question tags we use an auxiliary verb (have, is, will, do...) depending on the verb in the sentence.

You normally use a negative question tag after a positive question.:

Mary will be here soon, won't she?

You use a positive question tag after a negative question.:

She won't be late, will she?

We use, do, does, did for the present and past simple.:

She plays the piano, doesn't she?

Note that we say aren't I ? or am I not?:

I am late, aren't I ? or I am late, am I not?

After "Let's…" the question tag is usually shall we?:

Let's go for a walk, shall we?

After the imperative, the tag is usually ...will you?:

Open the door, will you?

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