Indefinite subjects and their pronouns in question tags.
‘Somebody’ ‘something’ ‘someone’
‘everbody’ ‘everything’ ‘everyone’
‘anybody’ ‘anything’ ‘anyone’
‘nobody’ ‘nothing’ ‘no one’
These subjects are known as indefinite subjects because they don’t directly say ‘who’ or ‘what’ the subject is. All these subjects are singular.
Though the subjects ‘somebody’, ‘someone’, ‘everybody’, ‘everyone’, ‘anybody’, ‘anyone’, ‘nobody’, ‘no one’ are considered as ‘singular subjects’, the pronoun of these subjects should be plural and the pronoun is ‘they’
So the auxiliary verbs with them also should be plural, even if the auxiliaries in the sentences are singular.
To clear it, let’s look at the following examples.
Somebody calls me, don’t they?
Here, the subject somebody is singular that is why the singular auxiliary verb ‘does’ is used with the verb ‘call’
( does + call = calls) in this simple present sentence.
But in the question tag, as the pronoun ‘they’ of the subject somebody is plural , the plural auxiliary verb of simple present ‘do’ is used.
This rule should be applied to all these indefinite subjects, if the tense of the sentence has more than one auxiliary verb.
Eg: Everybody is ready to attend the exam, aren’t they?
Nobody was present there, were they?
But the pronoun of the indefinite subjects ‘ something’, ‘everything’, ‘anything’, ‘nothing’, is ‘it’.
eg: Something is happening there, isn’t it?
Nothing has been told, has it?
The pronoun of the subjects, ‘few’ , ‘a few’ or ‘ the few’ is also ‘they’.
‘Few‘ is negative meaning where as, ‘a few‘ and ‘the few’ are positive meaning.
Eg: Few escaped unhurt, did they?
Few is negative meaning word, so the question tag becomes positive.
A few had gone there, hadn’t they?
A few is positive meaning word, so the question tag becomes negative.
But the pronoun of the subjects, ‘little’ , ‘a little’ or ‘the little’ is ‘it’
‘Little’ is ‘negative meaning’ where as, ‘a little’ and ‘the little’ are positive meaning.
Eg: little is wasted, is it ?
Little is negative meaning word, so the question tag becomes positive.
A little has been spent, hasn’t it?
A little is positive meaning word, so the question tag becomes negative.
Next, let’s look some subjects given below,
All of us, some of them, any of us, none of them, most of us, many of them.
Here we can see the subjects commonly as,
All/ some/ any/ none/ most/many + of + object form.
To our convenience let’s consider the pattern of the subject as –
—————- + of + Object form
That is any word denoting positive or negative meaning may come before ‘of’.
When these types of subjects come in a sentence, change the object form after ‘of’ into subject form and write it as the pronoun of the subject in the question tag.
To clear it, let’s look at the following sentences,
- Many of us have visited Europe, haven’t we?
Here, the us after the of in the sentence is changed into subject form we and then it is written as the pronoun of the subject in the question tag.
- None of them came here, did they?
Here, them after of is changed into subject they and then they is written as the pronoun of the subject.
- All of the students have passed the exam?
Here, the pronoun of the students ‘they’ is written as the pronoun of the subject.
When the subject one comes in a sentence, its pronoun should be one itself.
Eg: One must obey one’s parents, mustn’t one?
One has the right to express one’s creativity, hasn’t one?
So, these types of subjects and their pronouns should be given more care while making question tags.
Now, we are going to study the question tag of sentences beginning with ‘Let’ in the sense of a suggestion.
Eg. Let us play Cricket.
Here, the sentence begins with ‘Let’ to show a suggestion followed by ‘us’ the object form of ‘we’.
To make question tag for these type of sentences, first of all, write ‘shall’ and then write the pronoun of the subject form of the object.
So, here in the sentence, the question tag is, shall we ?
The question tags of the sentences beginning with ‘Let’ will be as follows
Let me ——— shall I?
Let him ———- shall he?
Let her ———– shall she?
Let them ———– shall they?
Here, we must understand that the common auxiliary verb of the question tag of sentences beginning with ‘Let’ is always ‘shall’.