You enjoy tag questions, don’t you? You study or teach English, don’t you?
The above two sentences are two examples of tag questions. Tag questions are often used to elicit a confirmation from another party. The grammar employed involves positive and negative verbs in pairs. Take a look at the following sentences. The examples of the positive and negative verbs have been capitalized.
These verbs are infinitive, but many other patterns may be used;
You CAN speak English, CAN’T you?
You HAVE eaten eggs, HAVEN’T you?
They WILL clean the carpet, WON’T they?
He COULD have escaped through the window, COULDN’T he?
She HADN’T moved from the couch by the time the phone rang, HAD she?
The best way to confirm understanding of tag questions is to confirm that the student knows you. Have the student confirm how well they know you, asking questions about nationality, favorite foods, sexual orientation, work schedule, etc.After the student has asked 5 questions, switch and ask the student 5 questions. This is where the exercise becomes difficult, because Japanese responses may be “Yes, I don’t”, which is unnatural in English. Inform the student that they should answer as though the question is not a tag question. For example;
You aren’t Chinese, are you?
No, I am not (Chinese).
Your parents are still alive, aren’t they?
No, they are not (alive).
Accusatory questions are similar to tag questions, but as indicated by their name, are much more accusatory in fashion. They are used when you are in disbelief of a situation.
Don’t you like cake? (surprise that the person is not eating/enjoying cake)
Haven’t you seen Castleblanca? (surprise that the person has not seen the classic movie Castleblanca)
Can’t you breathe through your nose? (surprise at the student’s breathing through their mouth)