Can someone tell me why this question on question-tags was closed as a duplicate of this other one?

As far as I can tell, the new question (though not particularly well-written by the standards of the site) is about tense, whereas the one it is an "exact duplicate" of is about using an infinitive in a question tag.

As far as I can tell the older question has no relevance other than also being about question tags, and the accepted answer while explaining about "to have to" in question tags explains nothing about tenses.

I've voted to reopen.

  • 3
    asked and done.
    – Mitch
    Nov 11, 2016 at 19:23
  • @AndyT Why do you think the accepted answer to the other question should have something about tense? Do you think linguists, etymologists and serious English enthusiasts would not be able to change the tense based on the answer? So, you think a question about the past tense should not be closed as duplicate if the dupe master answer doesn't deal with the past tense? What kind of logic is that? BTW, did you read the answer thoroughly enough? The answer says, "using do / does / did of Do-Support is the correct solution." What makes you think it doesn't deal with the past tense? See did?
    – user140086
    Nov 12, 2016 at 11:58
  • @reopen voters grammarbank.com/question-tags.html This is the second link if you Google "tag question after have to". In J. it states Have to” is considered Simple Present and “had to” is considered Simple Past. The OP would have found the answer with a few clicks as the reference is not that difficult to find on the internet. Also, the duplicate master has an answer do-support. I don't think your attempt to ELLize ELU is helpful to ELU, The question is either lack of research or duplicate.
    – user140086
    Nov 12, 2016 at 12:13

1 Answer 1


I cannot speak for the other three closers’ reasons for closing it as a duplicate, but my own reason was a simple one: because it is a duplicate.

Specifically, the original question asks what the question tag is for:

  1. They had to go home, ______?

While the duplicate question asks what the question tag is for:

  1. He has to do it, ______?

These are the same question.

Both askers are perplexed as to why the to have to construction takes an irregular tag question, respectively didn’t they and doesn’t he for this pair:

  1. They had to go home, didn’t they?
  2. He has to do it, doesn’t he?

Those are irregular because attempting to apply any simplistic and uninformed for regularly deriving tag questions would produce ungrammatical tags:

  1. They had to go home, *hadn’t they? <----- ɴᴏᴛ ɢʀᴀᴍᴍᴀᴛɪᴄᴀʟ!
  2. He has to do it, *hasn’t he? <----- ɴᴏᴛ ɢʀᴀᴍᴍᴀᴛɪᴄᴀʟ!

Now, why does to have to to an irregular tag question? Per the accepted answer from John Lawler:

Have to is an idiom, a paraphrase of the [modal auxiliary verb][1] must; it's always pronounced /'hæftə/ (/'hæstə/ in 3SgPres -- always /f/ instead of /v/ and /s/ instead of /z/), and it can't be split up.


That's why it doesn't form a normal tag question; the tag requires a contracted negative, and that's ungrammatical. Instead, as Rory, Kris, and Noah all suggest, using do/does/did of Do-Support is the correct solution.

This is the correct answer, and it applies to both questions. The two questions are duplicates.

Now please go re-close again for the duplicate that it is.

  • 5
    Even with do-support, there are multiple possible options. The newer question asks about tense: "Is it "Didn't they" or "Don't they" or something totally different?" The older question doesn't mention tense.
    – herisson
    Nov 11, 2016 at 21:35
  • 1
    @suməlic That wasn't what I got from it, but the question is very brief and shows no research. If this is merely a question of tense, then it is Too Basic For Our Site by virtue of being General Reference. Shall we migrate to ELL? I suspect it might be too basic for them, too. In any case, it should be made more clear. I still believe it is a dupe that needs no answer but Lawler's. Certainly the one it has so far incurred is wrong.
    – tchrist Mod
    Nov 11, 2016 at 21:52
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    I disagree since the new question is specifically to choose the tense by presenting us with the two options. John Lawler's answer is perfect for the old question but for the new specific concern it offers this: using do/does/did. Well the new poster got that far already. It's in his question. Is there research? No. Should it be closed. Yes. Is it a dupe where the old answer helps? Unfortunately not.
    – Helmar
    Nov 11, 2016 at 22:17
  • @Helmar Very well. Feel free to close for whatever reason you please then.
    – tchrist Mod
    Nov 12, 2016 at 0:35
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    @suməlic Please read my comment to the question above. The older question does mention tense. A user who doesn't know how to create a tag question based on the old answer doesn't belong here.
    – user140086
    Nov 12, 2016 at 12:02
  • @Helmar Please read my comment to Andy T (right below the question) and sumelic just above.
    – user140086
    Nov 12, 2016 at 12:04
  • 1
    @Rathony mentioning something and addressing something are two very different things.Knowing that the do-support is needed does simply not answer the new question. Thus, no dupe. I voted to close for lack of research however.
    – Helmar
    Nov 12, 2016 at 12:11
  • @Helmar Pls read another comment below the question. Andrew Leach ♦ wrote that a question is a duplicate when **one of the answers will either answer the question, or show the way to answering it.. The dupe master I chosen clearly shows the way to answering it (I actually think it answers the question, though). You should remember this when you vote to reopen a question closed as duplicate.
    – user140086
    Nov 12, 2016 at 12:22
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    @Rathony I know, and I think it doesn't. The new question already lists don't and didn't and the OP still doesn't know what to do. So no, the old answer does not help to identify the matching tense. Is that a clear indicator that it's more of an ELL level question? Yes. Is it a duplicate of the old one? No.
    – Helmar
    Nov 12, 2016 at 12:28
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    @Helmar If the OP doesn't know a thing about the present tense and past tense, he doesn't 'belong here.
    – user140086
    Nov 12, 2016 at 12:33
  • 5
    @Rathony whether the user "belongs here" or not has nothing to do with whether the questions are duplicates. If I were to ask "Is I am did this correct English?", that question would certainly not belong here and would absolutely need to be closed, but not necessarily as a duplicate. Note that I am not saying these two specific questions aren't duplicates, my point is that your opinion about whether the user "belongs" here has absolutely no bearing on whether the questions are duplicates. If they are, great. If not, then close for the right reason.
    – terdon
    Nov 12, 2016 at 12:58
  • 1
    @terdon I would have not made that statement if they'd understood why the question is duplicate. It's not that I don't know that principle. The dupe master clearly mentions the three examples including did of do support and those who say it is not duplicate didn't read it.
    – user140086
    Nov 12, 2016 at 13:05
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    @Rathony could you please stop accusing people of not doing their due diligence just because their evaluation came to different result?
    – Helmar
    Nov 13, 2016 at 9:57
  • @Helmar Can you come to the chat room chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/40642/elu-reviewers? Pls ping me when you come to the room.
    – user140086
    Nov 13, 2016 at 11:06

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