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Which usage is correct?

  • You shouldn't take sugar, should you?
  • You shouldn't take sugar, will you?
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I detect a difference of emhasize and, as I have to say over and over again, it all depends on context, on the effect the speaker is trying to achieve! –  Elberich Schneider Aug 15 '12 at 10:18
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The second one is incorrect, with the comma. Notice how in Andrew Leach's excellent answer, he subtly replaced the offending comma with a semicolon. –  user16269 Aug 15 '12 at 11:27
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1 Answer

In simple usage, the question tag always mirrors the clause which makes the statement:

You shouldn't take sugar, should you?
You won't take sugar, will you?

Changing the question tag makes it into a statement and a supplementary question. Note the change in written punctuation, which may not be so obvious in speech.

You shouldn't take sugar; will you? (That is, will you do that anyway?)
You won't take sugar; should you? (That is, should you do that even if you have decided not to?)

The first, normal, usage is a simple question tag to confirm the assumption implied in the statement. The second usage is actually inviting a contradiction of the assumption.

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So I'm correct in saying "it all depends on context, on the effect the speaker is trying to achieve"! –  Elberich Schneider Aug 15 '12 at 10:37
    
@XavierVidalHernández Sometimes the difference is easy to demonstrate and explain; sometimes it's actually necessary to ask for context. –  Andrew Leach Aug 15 '12 at 10:41
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Changing the question tag sounds terribly wrong. It feels like a cracked mirror. In some logical sense, it is probably grammatical, but I can't imagine someone meaning to use it coherently. It might be said "You won't take sugar. (pause) Should you?", but that's a very different thing, it's not a question tag. –  Mitch Aug 15 '12 at 13:53
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