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    #1

    Question Questions

    Hi all,

    The following yes/no question is a bit complicated. I wonder if any one would rather explain or give me an answer to a question like this.

    "Have you stopped beating your wife?"

    The answer should definitely be a yes or no; if not then what is the grammatical and semantic nature of the question.

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Questions

    The problem with this question is that there is no answer possible for the person who has never beaten his wife.

    He can't say "no" because it sounds like he has been and continue to beat his wife.

    He can't say "yes" because it sounds like he previously beat his wife.

    There are other similar problematic questions.

    "Why didn't you feed the cat?" If you did feed the cat, it's impossible to give a reason as to why you did not.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #3

    Re: Questions

    Tkanks a lot for the feedback.


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    #4

    Re: Questions

    It's not a yes or no answer, but if I were asked if I've stopped beating my wife, I'd say simply, "I never did."

  2. Soup's Avatar
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    English Teacher
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    #5

    Re: Questions

    Hello Sohrab Khan

    In answer to what is the grammatical and semantic nature of the question:


    A "loaded question", like a loaded gun, is a dangerous thing. A loaded question is a question with a false or questionable presupposition, and it is "loaded" with that presumption. The question "Have you stopped beating your wife?" presupposes that you have beaten your wife prior to its asking, as well as that you have a wife. If you are unmarried, or have never beaten your wife, then the question is loaded.



    Since this example is a yes/no question, there are only the following two direct answers:

    1. "Yes, I have stopped beating my wife", which entails "I was beating my wife."
    2. "No, I haven't stopped beating my wife", which entails "I am still beating my wife."

    Thus, either direct answer entails that you have beaten your wife, which is, therefore, a presupposition of the question. So, a loaded question is one which you cannot answer directly without implying a falsehood or a statement that you deny. For this reason, the proper response to such a question is not to answer it directly, but to either refuse to answer or to reject the question.



    Read more here ...

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