He did nothing*.
Which is the correct question tag for the sentence above?
What is the effect of using nothing for negation?
Hum, I think either one is possible. My interpretation of this is that if you said
it would mean that you think that I've said that he did nothing and you want me to confirm that. If you said
it would mean that you assert that he did nothing and you expect me to confirm that.
My interpretation is that if you said
it sounds more neutral (less emphatic) than if you said
To expand on the current answers,
"He didn't do anything, did he?" and
"He did nothing, didn't he?"
Mean exactly the same thing. The tag question asks for confirmation of the speakers belief that that he didn't do anything.
"He did nothing, did he?"
Is a different type of tag question. It does not mean that the speakers opinion is that he did nothing. The speaker is in fact genuinely questioning the assertion that he did nothing.
"he rode a bike, did he?"
The speaker really wants to know if he rode a bike, and isn't sure of that fact.
"he rode a bike, didn't he?"
The speaker is rather confident that he did ride a bike, but is asking for confirmation.