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Reply to "Question tag?"

Swan* describes this kind of question tag as 'same-way' question tags, with this example: You're getting married, are you?.

He states:

  • Non-negative question tags are quite common after affirmative sentences. These are often used as responses to something that has been said....The speaker repeats what he/she has just heard or learnt, and uses the tag to express interest, surprise, concern or some other reaction:

    So you're getting married, are you? How nice.
    So she thinks sh's going to become a doctor, does she? Well, well.
    You think you're funny, do you?

    'Same-way' tags can be used to ask questions. In this structure, we use the main sentence to make a guess, and then ask (in the tag) if it was correct.

    Your mother's at home, is she?
    You can eat shellfish, can you?
    This is the last bus, is it?

    [i]I'll...shall I?[/] can be used to make offers

    [i]I'll hold that for you, shall I?

    My feeling is that these same-way question tags are used more in British English than in American English.

    In addition, certainly in American English, they often express hostility or present a challenge:

  • So you think you're going to marry my daughter, do you?

  • You want me to do your work for you, do you?

  • Jack said that about me, did he? We'll, he'd better apologize!
    *Practical English Usage, by Michael Swan. Oxford 2005
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