History of the English Language

 

 

 

Question tags: You shouldn't sit down, should you?

Question tags in English can sometimes be a bit difficult to get right. Look out in the text for them. Can you work out the rules? If not, go to the grammar explanation after the videos to see how to turn a normal positive/negative sentence into a question.

 

You can see a little bit of yourself in one or some of the following statements, can't you?

  • You sit down at work for long periods every day, don't you?
  • You watch TV all evening sitting on the sofa, don't you?
  • You have got into the habit of being online for hours on end without taking a break, haven't you?
  • You will often play video games hunched over the screen, won't you?

 

The Bad News

If so, I've got some worrying news for you! If you sit down for over six hours per day then you face some serious medical dangers:

  1. You could be reducing your life by up to seven years
  2. Your risk of getting heart disease is 64% higher than people who live a more active life
  3. You are much more at risk of developing colon cancer

It's hard to believe, isn't it? You don't want to have a heart attack or die seven years early, do you?

The Good News

You can avoid these problems if you do the following:

  • Get out of your chair as often as possible and stand up and stretch.
    Do at least 30 minutes of activity every day.

It isn't that hard to do, is it?
However, it's not so easy to remember to do this all the time, is it?
Get help by downloading free software that will remind you with an alarm to stop hunching over your computer all day.
For the Mac, you can download Time Out for free.
For Windows, there's Breaker or Workrave.

I have got Time Out running on my computer and it's great. It's also unbelievable how quickly the time flies by and you get an alarm (which is 100% adjustable) and then realise it's time to get out of your bad posture position!

If you want more information on the dangers of sitting, take a look at the excellent cartoons at the bottom of the page after the grammar explanation.

Here are a couple of very quick vids that show you how to do some stretches if you have to stay sitting in your office chair. It would look weird if you got down on the floor and started doing some yoga-tastic moves, wouldn't it? More importantly though, they've got subtitles for English students! That's always a help, isn't it?

Question Tags

In spoken English we put a 'mini-question' on the end of a normal sentence to make it into a question.
This question tag at the end of the sentence uses an auxiliary (or helping) verb like do, have, will, should, can, could and 'to be'

Examples:

  • (HAVE) You have got into the habit of being online for hours, haven’t you?
    (BE) It‘s not so easy to remember to do this all the time, is it?

As you can see, when your sentence is (grammatically) positive, then the question tag is negative

  • You have got into the habit of being online for hours, haven’t you?
    You have.....(POSITIVE)..................................., haven’t you? (NEGATIVE)

And when the sentence is (gramatically) negative, then the question tag is positive

  • It‘s not so easy to remember to do this all the time, is it?
    It is not......(NEGATIVE).................................., is it? (POSITIVE)

So, POSITIVE SENTENCE = NEGATIVE TAG

and NEGATIVE SENTENCE = POSITIVE TAG

This works for any 'helping verb' (listed above)

  • It would look weird, wouldn’t it?
    You shouldn’t sit down, should you?

The problem is what happens when you can't see/find the helping verb!
Well, then we use 'do' - or if the subject is he/she/it, we use 'does'

  • You watch TV all evening sitting on the sofa, don’t you?
    She sits down at work all day, doesn't she?

Please note that when we have a sentence with 'have got', we do NOT use the 'got' in the question tag.

  • You haven't got back pain, have you?
    You've got a good office chair, haven't you?

Sitting is Killing You

 

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