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Question tags in imperative sentences

Question tags in imperative sentences.

Sentences denoting a  ‘request’,  ‘ advice’,    ‘warning’,   ‘wish’,   ‘order’,   ‘command’,   ‘suggestion’ etc are known as Imperative sentences.

 The subject of  imperative sentences is always the second person ‘You.  So  the subject is not generally said or written but it is understood to both the speaker and the listener.

 Imperative sentences can be classified into

1 Positive meaning imperative sentences  ( V + O)

Eg: Open the door 

2 Negative meaning Imperative sentences ( Don’t + V + O)

 Eg: Don’t disturb me

All said above are common facts about  imperative sentences.

 

But here,  in this topic, we have to study how to make question tags for imperative sentences.

We must understand that  there are only two question tags for imperative sentences,

They are    will you?    or    won’t you?

 

But it is used according to the sense of the imperative sentence.

That is,  according to its  Normal sense  and  Serious sense.

 

  • Normal sense

In normal sense, the question tag    ‘will you?’ is used for a positive meaning imperative sentence  and  won’t you?   is used for a negative meaning imperative sentence.

To clear it,  let’s go to the following examples,

  1. Give water.  ( V+ O)  ,  ( Positive meaning)

Here, if the speaker  is supposed to want  water just for a refreshment, then the imperative sentence is  said to be in normal sense,  and the question tag  to be used  here is,  will you?

So, we can rewrite the above example with its question tag, as,

Give water, will you?

 

2  Don’t say nonsense ( Don’t + V + O) , ( Negative meaning)

Here, if the speaker is supposed to hear a foolishness from his friend and it makes him laugh loudly, then the imperative sentence from the speaker is said to be in normal sense , and so the question tag to be used here is, won’t you?

So, let’s again write the example with its question tag, as,

Don’t say nonsense, won’t you?

 

  • Serious sense

In  serious sense,   the question tag  won’t you? is  used  for  positive meaning imperative sentence   and  will you? for negative imperative.

 

To clear it, let’s again bring back the above mentioned examples to understand the difference.

  1. Give water.  ( V+ O)  ,  ( Positive meaning) .

Here,  if the speaker is supposed to feel getting fainted and needs  water,  then the imperative sentence is said  to be in serious sense,  and so the question tag is to be used here is,  won’t you?

So, we can write the example with its question tag in serious sense, as.

    Give water, won’t you?

 

  1. Don’t say nonsense ( Don’t + V + O) , ( Negative meaning)

Here, if the speaker is supposed to want a solution for a problem from the listener and  get irritated from the listener’s foolish suggestion , then the imperative sentence from the speaker is said to be in serious sense, and so the question tag will you?  is to be used here.

So, we can write the example in serious sense with its question tag, as.

Don’t say nonsense, will you?

 

Now,  let’s remember once more how to make question tags for imperative sentences in  both normal and  serious senses.

 

  •  In  normal sense,

If  the imperative sentence is  Positive meaning  

the question tag is,will you?

Eg: Open the door, will you ?

If the imperative sentence is in Negative meaning 

the question tag is,won’t you?

Eg: Don’t  open the door,  won’t you?

 

  • In serious sense    

( here,  the question tag is opposite to that of normal sense,   let’s see  )

If the imperative sentence is in Positive meaning,

the question tag is,won’t you?

Eg: Open the door, won’t you?

If the imperative sentence is in Negative meaning,

the question tag is,will you?

Eg: Don’t open the door, will you?

 

However,  sometimes  the sense of imperative sentences  can’t be identified separately  from just a  sentence.  In such cases,  the question tags in normal sense can be applied.

eg: Bring the book tomorrow, will you?   ( positive meaning sentence in normal sense)

      Don’t repeat it,  won’t you?    ( negative meaning sentence in normal sense)

 

But,  if the serious sense  can surely be identified,  the question tags in serious sense are to be used.

Eg:  Give water,  won’t you?     ( positive meaning   in serious sense)

Don’t say nonsense, will you?   ( negative meaning  in serious sense)

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