How do I know how to turn a statement into a question ? I read sometimes a different verb in the end than the one used in the statement before. I guess most of the time it has the following format:

<statement>, <question> ?

Examples (made up, not quoted):

  • He is quite fast, isn't he ?
  • He is doing it well, doesn't he ?
  • You can get quite angry, don't you ? (or "can't you" ?)
  • She isn't that beautiful, is she ?

Is this correct English ? How do I know which verb I need in the end ?


More examples:

  • I must go home, mustn't I ? (or "don't I" ?)
  • He plays well, doesn't he ?
  • She has a beautiful nose, hasn't she ?
  • I can't do it, can I ?

So if I have an auxiliary verb in the statement, can I just "negate" it in the question ?
When I have no auxiliary verb do I always use "do" and negate it (according to the statement) ?

Auxiliary verbs (source):

  • to have
  • to do
  • to be


  • can
  • may
  • will
  • shall
  • must

(I'm lacking technical terms, sorry. I'm not native English.)

  • The topic is interrogative tags. E.g. "He is quite fast, isn't he?"; "You can get quite angry, can't you?" I think you can see the pattern. – F.E. Aug 31 '14 at 7:05

Yes, you have it right.

The idiom essentially translates like:

He is quite fast. Would you say he isn't?

or, otherwises, an implied "challenge" to the recipient of the question to say otherwise.

So, like the examples you have written, you'll want to add/or remove an auxiliary verb (for these contractions, the not, or 'nt) when asking the question, to make the verb "opposite."

  • Ok, this answers one part of what I asked. Can you explain what verb to choose in the question part if I don't have a auxiliary verb in statement ? See update please! – Divergent Aug 31 '14 at 7:54

Here is a list of variations on your examples that sound correct to a native speaker of (US) English. I'll propose a general rule at the end.

  • He is quite fast, isn't he?

  • He is doing it well, isn't he?

  • He does that well, doesn't he?

  • You can get quite angry, can't you?

  • You get quite angry, don't you?

  • She isn't that beautiful, is she?

  • She looks beautiful, doesn't she?

  • I must go home, mustn't I?

  • I have to go home, don't I?

  • He plays well, doesn't he?

  • She has a beautiful nose, doesn't she?

  • I can't do it, can I?

The general pattern from these examples is that

  • is, can, do are repeated in a challenge clause

  • everything else is replaced by do

  • a few words (must, have) are borderline cases that are correct, but sound either British or archaic.

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