Which one of the sentences is the correct, and why?

I had breakfast yesterday, hadn't I?

I had breakfast yesterday, didn't I?


I choose option "b" since "had" in this case is a main verb, not an auxiliary verb.

  • 4
    Right. This have is a part of an idiom have Meal, meaning 'eat Meal', which is a metaphoric extension of 'possess' have; only auxiliary have participates in Subject-Auxiliary Inversion. – John Lawler May 23 '14 at 16:18

Ah, good question!

What you're doing is using "tag questions" which are just questions that get stuck onto the end of declarative sentences (like "I had breakfast" or "I like tigers" or "I make tacos on Thursdays") to turn them into...questions!

So here's the thing, questions in English only start with auxiliary verbs or questions words. Observe:

Have I eaten? *Ate I?

Am I running? *Running am I?

Do I like camels? *Like I camels?

The same rule applies to tag questions! So even though "have" can be an auxiliary verb, it's not one in "I had breakfast." It's the main verb so it can't be.

The amazing thing is, you can still form a tag question, or a regular question ("did I eat breakfast?") with the verb "do" which literally means nothing but [tense]! Perfect examples, awesome question.

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