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How to use question tags

Question tags help us to turn a
statement into a question. They
usually appear at the end of a
sentence followed by a question mark.
This flower is very beautiful, isn't it?
Your sister is a teacher, isn't she?


Joe and John are twins, arenít they?


That building is a church, isn't it?
We are doing well, aren't we?
Joe and John are twins, aren't they?

We use question tags to check
whether something is true.

Your mother is a housewife, isn't she?
You're Mr Johnson, aren't you?
Mrs Perera is your aunt, isn't she?
She is a journalist, isn't she?
You're a teenager, aren't you?

We use question tags to find
out whether someone agrees with us.

This novel is interesting, isn't it?
The meal is delicious, isn't it?
Your principal is a martinet
(strict disciplinarian), isn't he?
This house is too big for us, isn't it?
You like this room, don't you?

There is no short form for 'am not'.
So, we use 'aren't' to form question tags.

I'm a doctor, aren't I?
I am in the volleyball team, aren't I?
I am a vegetarian, aren't I?
I am a student, aren't I?
I'm a child, aren't I?

We use negative question tags for
positive statements.

It is drizzling, isn't it?
We're Sri Lankans, aren't we?
They're rich, aren't they?
Sunimal failed the exam, didn't he?
Raj built a palace, didn't he?

We use positive question tags for
negative statements.

Martha didn't do it, did she?
Renga failed the exam, did he?
Soma didn't write the essay, did she?
Sigiriya is not an island, is it?


The boys are studying, arenít they?


Mendis is not a criminal, is he?

We use contractions (short forms)
in question tags. E.g. didn't,
hasn't, isn't, wasn't, aren't etc.

We use pronouns instead of
proper nouns in question tags.

Jacob is a banker, isn't he?
Sara is a dancer, isn't she?
The boys are studying, aren't they?
The fishermen caught some big
fish, didn't they?
Lizards are reptiles, aren't they?

Activity

Fill in the blanks with suitable
question tags. Check your answers
with the key.

1. Your mother is a nurse, .............?
2. Roses are beautiful flowers, . ..................?
3. She is doing well, ..................?
4. You're a fast runner, ............?
5. Dogs and cats are domestic animals,...................?
6. You and I are sitting the same exam, .....................?
7. This little girl is very clever, ..................?
8. You're a tennis player, .................?
9. This umbrella is mine, .................?
10. The police officer is helpful, ................?

**********

[KEY]

1. isn't she
2. aren't they
3. isn't she
4. aren't you
5. aren't they
6. aren't we
7. isn't she
8. aren't you
9. isn't it
10. isn't he

**********


Collective nouns

We use many collective nouns in writing. Look at the collective nouns in column 'A' and fill the blanks with the relevant words given in column 'B'.

***********

[Column A]

1. A hail of ...............
2. A hand of .............
3. A herd of ..............
4. A horde of ..............
5. A host of ...............
6. A library of ...............
7. A litter of ...............
8. A mob of ..................
9. A muster of ..............
10. A nest of ................
11. An orchard of .............
12. An outfit of .................
13. A pack of .................
14. A peal of ..................
15. A plague of ..................
16. A posse of .................
17. A pride of ....................
18. A rope of ...................
19. A school of ..................
20. A set of ..................
21. A sheaf of .................
22. A shoal of ...................
23. A staff of ..................
24. A stud of ................
25. A suite of ..................

***********

[Column B]

A. angels B. bullets C. clothes D. bells E. horses F. books G. fruit trees H. furniture I. teachers J. buffaloes K. herring L. lions M. machine-guns N. papers o. peacocks P. pups Q. pearls R. rioters S. savages T. bananas U. whales V. golf clubs W .wolves X. policemen Y. locusts

***********

[KEY]

1. B 2. T 3. J 4. S 5. A 6. F 7. P 8. R 9. O 10. M 11. G 12. C 13. W 14.
D 15. Y 16. X 17. L 18. Q 19. U 20. V 21. N 22. K 23. I 24. E 25. H


The use of 'am', 'is' and 'are'

Beginners should be familiar with the use of 'am, is' and 'are'. Today let's learn how
to use them in positive and negative sentences.

[Positive]

I am a student (First person singular)


Doreen is afraid of snakes.


You are a student (Second person singular)
He is a student (Third person singular)
We are students (First person plural)
You are students (Second person plural)
They are students (Third person plural)

[Negative]

I am not a student
You are not a student
He is not a student
We are not students
You are not students
They are not students
Some more examples
A: Can you come and play with me?
B: Sorry, I'm busy with my studies
I'm 12 years old.
My brother is 15.
My father is a journalist.
He is of medium height.
Doreen is afraid of snakes.
It's 8 o'clock.
You're late.
My clothes are dirty. I must wash them.
We are tired but we're not hungry.
Samson is not interested in cricket.
Mother isn't at home. She has
gone shopping.
We aren't Chinese. We're Sri Lankans.

[Note the contractions]

is not: isn't
are not: aren't
there is: there's
here is: here's
that is: that's

[Activity]

Complete the sentences using 'am, is' or 'are'. Check your answers with the key.
1. My clothes ...... very dirty.
2. This chair ........ very comfortable.
3. Your purse ............ in your briefcase.
4. This hotel ........... very expensive.
5. The grocery ........... not open today.
6. Sara's son ...... five years old.
7. The buildings in this city .......... very old.
8. Learning English ........... not difficult.
9. Those girls .......... very beautiful.
10. Sri Jayewardenepura ......... the capital of Sri Lanka.

***********

[KEY]

1. are, 2. is, 3. is, 4. is, 5. is, 6. is, 7. are, 8. is, 9. are, 10. is.

***********

-----------------------

Do you hear these noises?

Streams, drums and trumpets make different noises. Fill the blanks in Column 'A' with the relevant words in Column 'B'. Check your answers with the key and learn various noises and who or what makes them.

[Column A]

1. The babble of a ................
2. The beat of a ...................
3. The blare of a .................
4. The blast of an ...............
5. The bubbling of a ..................
6. The buzz of .................
7. The chattering of a ..................
8. The chime of a .......................
9. The chinking of ...................
10. The chug of an ...................
11. The clang of a ................
12. The clanking of ...................
13. The clatter of ..................
14. The click of a .................
15. The crack of a ...............
16. The crackle of a .................
17. The creak of ...............
18. The crinkle of ...............
19. The fizz of ..............
20. The grinding of .................
21. The gurgle of a .................
22. The hiss of ..............
23. The hoot of a ...............
24. The howling of the ..............
25. The hubbub of ..............

[Column B]

A. many voices
B. brook
C. conversation
D. drum
E. explosion
F. clock
G. wind
H. hoofs
I. fire
J. horn
K. coins
L. latch
M. floorboards
N. steam
O. lemonade
P. engine
Q. waste-pipe
R. tin-foil
S. stream
T. trumpet
U. stream
V. chains
W. whip
X. brakes
Y. bell

***********

[KEY]

1. S 2. D 3. T 4. E 5. U 6. C 7. B 8. F 9. K 10. P 11. Y 12. V 13. H 14. L 15. W 16. I 17. M 18. R 19. O 20. X 21. Q 22. N 23. J 24. G 25. A

***********

--------------------

Match the synonyms

A synonym is a word or phrase which has the same or nearly the same meaning as another word or phrase. For instance, 'small' and 'little' are synonyms. Here is a quiz on synonyms. Pick the right synonym for the following words in column 'A' from those in column 'B'.

[Column A]

1. vegetate
2. real
3. naught
4. unmade
5. substance
6. substantial
7.baseless
8. characteristics
9. innate
10. essential
11. mode
12. role
13. detailed
14. relevance
15. approximate
16. kindred
17. unrelatedness
18. farfetched
19. interact
20. identity
21. reproduce
22. contrary
23. regularity
24. similarity
25. dissimilar

[Column B]

A. inborn
B. zero
C. related
D. sameness
E. unlike
F. groundless
G. constancy
H. remote
I. irrelevance
J. stagnate
K. interplay
L. character
M. minute
N. close
O. stuff
P. pertinence
Q. opposite
R. actual
S. constituents
T. sameness
U. solid
V. manner
W. duplicate
X. fundamental
Y. unproduced

************

[KEY]

1. J 2. R 3. B 4. Y 5. O 6. U 7. F 8. S 9. A 10. X 11. V 12. L 13. M 14. P 15. N 16. C 17. I 18. H 19. K 20. T 21. W 22. Q 23. G 24. D 25. E

************

 

 

 

 

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