I mean the clause at the end, seemingly asking for confirmation of the claim.

You would like to sleep, wouldn't you?

What is this called?


The construction is called a tag question (or question tag), with the tag being the question part at the end.

  • 1
    Of course, the negative can go in either the tag, as here, or in the original statement, in which case the tag is affirmative: You wouldn't like to sleep, would you? One or the other must be negative, and the tag must be contracted, if it's negative. – John Lawler May 21 '12 at 0:40
  • 1
    @JohnLawler Oh, they must, must they? (I'm not trying to be confrontational, of course. It just seemed like an appropriate demonstration that although what you said is true in most cases, the statement or the tag need not be negative if the intent is ironic or argumentative.) – Cameron May 21 '12 at 0:49
  • That's not a tag question. Tag questions aren't threatening; if anything, they're deferential. That's, as you put it, a confrontational tag, not at all the same construction. Note that it requires both parts to be affirmative; if they're both negative, it's ungrammatical -- *You don't want to leave, don't you? – John Lawler May 21 '12 at 0:57
  • 1
    @JohnLawler Interesting, I didn't know there was a distinction. I guess it makes sense given the different intents and constructions, as you pointed out. Thanks for teaching me something new! – Cameron May 21 '12 at 2:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.