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Problem 1: What is the correct tag question of proverbs like (a) None is none under the sun,isn't it/ are they? (b) Time and tide wait for none, isn't it/ do they? (c) Waste not, want not, isn't it?

Problem 2: What is the correct tag question of interrogative sentences like: (a) Who cares, do they?

Problem 3:Can we add tag question to phrases like (a) Good morning, ......? (b) Happy birthday, ....?

I've given the answer with confusion. I think that as the proverbs are universal, the tag question should be always 'isn't it'. We should not use any tag question with interrogative sentences like 'who cares' because it itself a question. We might not add tag question with phrases like 'Good morning/ happy birth' because they are wishes and we cannot ask for confirmation from the hearer we are wishing. But some teachers of Bangladesh set question like these in exams.

Thanking again. I will be happy if you give solutions with reference.

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None of these uses are clear, idiomatic English.

What is the correct tag question of proverbs like (a) None is none under the sun,isn't it/ are they? (b) Time and tide wait for none, isn't it/ do they? (c) Waste not, want not, isn't it? ... I've given the answer with confusion. I think that as the proverbs are universal, the tag question should be always 'isn't it'.

Isn't it would require some antecedent for "it" that does not exist in some of these examples. If you mean, "Isn't it the case that this is true or applicable?", you'd need to expound at least a little, saying isn't it so?. Equivalent, colloquial tag questions with the same basic meaning here are right?, eh?, huh? You could say, Waste not, want not, right?

If you wanted, you could construct a tag question that agrees with the actual content of the proverb. As you suspect, since the proverb is a set phrase, the generic tag question would be better. Still, you could, if you really wanted, say "None is none under the sun, isn't it?" and "Time and tide wait for no man, don't they?" Since waste not, want not is in a command form, I don't think there is any good way to add a tag question that agrees grammatically with the content.

Problem 2: What is the correct tag question of interrogative sentences like: (a) Who cares, do they?

"Who cares, do they?" sounds like wordplay. It isn't a suitable tag question.

Since Who cares? is a common rhetorical question, it makes sense to tag it generically, as in, "Who cares, right?"

If it were a real interrogative question, no substantive tag would apply. You would not say, "What is her number, right?" nor "What is her number, is it?" These are not grammatical.

In colloquial speech, some speakers might add a hunh, eh, hmm, or similar at the end of some interrogative questions. I don't recommend trying to adopt this practice.

Problem 3:Can we add tag question to phrases like (a) Good morning, ......? (b) Happy birthday, ....?

Not as such. I don't understand what this would do.

With good morning, you could certainly ask the question, "Good morning, isn't it?" or "Good morning, wouldn't you say?" or "Good morning, I hope?" Though these start with a clause good morning, I would not consider that clause to be equivalent to the greeting good morning, per se.

Happy birthday is less suitable to such twisting around.

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  • I agree with almost all of this, but I think "happy birthday, wasn't it?" sounds about as reasonable as "good morning, isn't it?" They're both a little too cute, but not unimaginable. – Juhasz Jan 5 at 0:50
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It is probably the case that these questions have been posed by a non-native speaker who has been taught incorrect grammar, because several of the ideas here are wrong. There is, for instance, not always a correct (let alone the correct) tag question for every utterance. Tag questions are defined only for statements, and the rule doesn't always extend even to those.

So problem (2) is right out. We don't add tags to interrogatives. Tags are interrogatives. One of many types.

Secondly, problems (1) and (3) are incoherent. What kind of structure do proverbs have in common? None. The thing that makes them proverbs is that people accept them as proverbs. Any kind of sentence, or chunk of a sentence, can reach this status, for any reason at all. And that's the end of it. It's not grammar.

I.e, there is no such category as

proverbs like
(a) None is none under the sun
(b) Time and tide wait for no one
(c) Waste not, want not

These are three different random proverbs, composed with three very different structures, and have no room for, no need for, nor rules for tag questions. The question would have been OK to give to native speakers, who would discover fast that the given tags were ungrammatical. But it's not suitable for English learners. And problem (3) extends this mess to random chunks of fixed phrases, which is even less suitable for English learners.

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