The Order of Prepositions

Usually, prepositions precede the words they govern. (e.g. Steve spoke to Sandra.) But sometimes, especially in questions, relative or interrogative clauses, idiomatic expressions, or commonly used expressions, prepositions come after the words they govern.

  • He was in the room when I went to the garden. (in and to precede and govern the room and the garden respectively.)
  • What are you talking about? (about terminates the sentence but it governs what.)
  • A good wife is what every man prays for.(for ends the sentence but it governs what.)
  • You are the girl (whom) we have come for. (for here governs the understood object the relative pronoun whom parenthesized before we.)
  • I cannot put up with your character. (with, though part of the phrasal prepositional verb/idiom, governs the object character.)


The Order/pattern of Question Tags

QUESTION TAGS (or question phrases) are those speeches in which statements are made and questions are tagged on to them. The following illustrate their forms, order/pattern and formation:

  • You eat rice, don’t you?
  • You don’t dance, do you?
  • He went home yesterday, didn’t he?
  • She didn’t come here that day, did she?

The question tag is used when a speaker wishes his listener to confirm what he says. Towards this purpose/end, there are two intonation patterns for question tags:

  • falling tone (used when the speaker is sure of his facts).
  • rising tone (used when the speaker is in doubt or uncertain of his facts).

There are two basic ways of forming tag questions:

  • if the first verb in the main statement contains an auxiliary or a modal verb, the auxiliary verb is repeated in the tag; e.g. It is sweet, isn’t it?
  • if the first verb in the introductory statement contains no auxiliary/modal verb, some part of the verb “do” is used – i.e. do, does, or did – e.g. You drink beer, don’t you?

A standing rule in the formation of question tags is that “if the first clause or introductory statement has a positive verb, the tag is negative; but if the first clause has a negative verb, the tag is positive”. E.g. He is there, isn’t he? (+-) He wasn’t there, was he? (-+)

As with its formation, the answer/reply to any question tag follows a definite rule and demands a high degree of consistency. Yes introduces a positive answer; no introduces a negative answer. We say either “Yes, I do” or “No, I don’t”; e.g. You eat rice, don’t you? (Ans. “Yes, I do.”) He wasn’t there, was he? (Ans. “No, he wasn’t.”)

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