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What is a tag question?



A tag question is a constituent that is added after a statement in order to request confirmation or disconfirmation of the statement from the addressee. Often it expresses the bias of the speaker toward one answer.


A tag question often includes a

  • be verb
  • predicate meaning ‘true’, and
  • negative.
Examples (English, German, French)
  • The English isn’t he?, as in the following sentence:

    He’s a pleasant fellow, isn’t he?

  • The German nicht wahr? ‘not true?’
  • The French n’est ce pas? ‘is it not?’

Sadock and Zwicky 1985 183

  A tag question is a kind of

Crystal 1985 304


Hartmann and Stork 1972 233


Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik 1985 811


Mish 1991 1201


Sadock and Zwicky 1985 182–183

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