Tag endings and auxiliaries: the use of a tag question where the sentence contains an auxiliary is a short subject because, as noted below, many auxiliaries are not used in tag questions in current English.

Tag questions are used to confirm what is said in a sentence. They are necessary in English although I must say that spoken English often uses simply,

“OK?” or “all right?” (”alright?” in USA English) to confirm what has been said.

If you know something about Tag Endings in English the use of tag endings (also called tag questions) with auxiliaries will not surprise you.

We add these auxiliary tag endings to the sentence, after a comma, repeating the auxiliary word.

As usual:

If the sentence is affirmative, the tag question must be in the negative.

  • If the sentence is negative the tag question must be affirmative.
  • The negative auxiliary must be a contraction. For example:

‘He would say that, wouldn’t he?’

‘He wouldn’t say that, would he?’

The auxiliaries are:

would, could, should, can, must, ought to, may, might, shall y will.

These are usually called ‘modal auxiliares or modal verbs’

Examples of tag questions with auxiliaries:


She would teach me, wouldn’t she?

She wouldn’t teach me, would she?


You could listen to me, couldn’t you?

You couldn’t listen to me, could you?


You should tell him, shouldn’t you?

You shouldn’t tell him, should you?


You can read, can’t you?

You can’t read, can you?


You will wear a coat, won’t you?

You won’t wear a coat, will you?


NOTE: must, ought to, may, might, shall

These are not used as tag questions in modern English because their negative form cannot be contracted. You will find them in British English literature of the past, such as The Secret Garden, but they are not current.

However, “Mustn’t” is still quite common in British English.

The auxiliary verbs that are not modals: that is, those that have an independent existence:

  to be, to have, to do

To be:

You’re from Chicago, aren’t you? (contraction of 'are')

You’re not from Chicago, are you?

To have:

Affirmative: You have a new boyfriend, haven’t you?

Affirmative: You’ve got * a new boyfriend, haven’t you?

Please see: The Verb 'to get' in English


To do:

You do this every day, don’t you?

You don’t do this every day, do you?