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    #1

    Confusing yes/no responses

    Hi,

    I am very confused by yes-no responses in English. In my native language, "yes" or "no" are always used to show agreement and disagreement to the questioner.

    However, grammar books tell me that in responding question-tags and negative questions, “yes” is used with affirmative sentences while “no” is for negative sentences. For example:
    Q: The earth is bigger than the moon, isn't it?
    A: Yes, (it is.)

    Q: Aren’t you going out?
    A: No, (I’m not)

    In English, besides question-tags and negative questions, does the usage “yes” and “no” always depend on the subsequent affirmative and negative sentences instead of the agreement or disagreement to the questioner?

    Below are 3 examples that I find confusing, could you help me with them?


    Q1: Is the seat taken/occupied?
    (If it is not taken, are the following responses correct?)
    a) No, it's not.
    b) No.
    c) No. You may sit here.
    d) No, you may sit here.
    e) Yes, you may sit here.
    f) Yes.

    Q2. I think you don't like tennis...
    (If I like tennis…)
    a) Yes, I do.
    b) Yes.
    c) Yes, I like tennis.
    d) No. I like tennis.
    e) No, I like tennis.
    f) No.
    g) No, it’s not true.

    Q3. Are you going out?
    (If I am not…)
    a) No.
    b) No, I am not.
    c) No. I want to stay home.
    d) No, I want to stay home.
    e) Yes, I want to stay home.


    Thank you very much!
    Last edited by thincat; 19-May-2013 at 10:32.

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Confusing yes/no responses

    The ones I have crossed out are not natural.
    Quote Originally Posted by thincat View Post
    Q1: Is the seat taken/occupied?
    (If it is not taken, are the following responses correct?)
    a) No, it's not.
    b) No.
    c) No. You may sit here.
    d) No, you may sit here.
    e) Yes, you may sit here.
    f) Yes.

    Q2. I think you don't like tennis...
    (If I like tennis…)
    a) Yes, I do.
    b) Yes.
    c) Yes, I like tennis.
    d) No. I like tennis.
    e) No, I like tennis.
    f) No.
    g) No, it’s not true.

    Q3. Are you going out?
    (If I am not…)
    a) No.
    b) No, I am not.
    c) No. I want to stay home.
    d) No, I want to stay home.
    e) Yes, I want to stay home.!

  2. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Confusing yes/no responses

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    The ones I have crossed out are not natural.
    It's quite easy when you realize that in English, the Yes/No response must be in accord with the main verb and its assertion, not the phrasing of the question.

  3. 5jj's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Confusing yes/no responses

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    It's quite easy when you realize that in English, the Yes/No response must be in accord with the main verb and its assertion, not the phrasing of the question.
    As in:
    Q2. I think you don't like tennis...
    (If I like tennis…)
    a) Yes, I do.
    b) Yes.
    c) Yes, I like tennis.

    ?

  4. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Confusing yes/no responses

    Yes, meaning that the main verb stripped to a simple assertion with its pronoun is the core concept with which Yes or No must agree, rather than the way it was asked, which in English doesn't affect the meaning, but merely indicates the speaker's bias or expectation.

    Are you pregnant? (Neutral, 50/50, someone who may expect the answer to be yes, but equally knows the answer is as likely to be no).
    You're not pregnant, are you???!! (A mother, close friend, or someone who doesn't approve of the partner, who fully expected pregnancy to be avoided at all costs...)

    The answer to either is the same, even without the segmentation of "are you".

    Or so it seems to me.

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