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    • Join Date: Dec 2009
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    #1

    Answering "not" questions.

    I have always had this obsession over "not" questions, for example:
    "Did you not eat?"

    Most people, including me without thinking, would respond 'no' if they didn't eat and 'yes' if they did eat but usually it comes with an end add-on for confirmation:
    If they didn't eat: "No, I didn't eat"
    If they did: "Yes, I ate"

    Is this the correct response, or is it supposed to be:
    If they didn't eat: "Yes, I didn't eat"
    If they did: "No, I ate"

    Thank you for answering.

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Answering "not" questions.

    Keep going as you have been.

    No, I haven't.
    Yes, I have

    No, I didn't.
    Yes, I did.
    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: Answering "not" questions.

    But the thing I do not understand is that if the person did not eat and was asked "did you NOT eat?" and they answer with the one word "no" wouldnt that be the same as saying they did eat due to the reply of "no" to "not eat"?

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Answering "not" questions.

    If you answer with the single word "no" the person will most likely reply back with something like "No, you didn't?" or "No, you didn't not eat?"

    Make it easier for you conversation partner and just give the full answer.
    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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    #5

    Re: Answering "not" questions.

    So it doesn't really matter what reply you use such as yes and no as long as you have add a confirmation to the end?

  3. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Answering "not" questions.

    Only when it's phrased in the negative.

    If I ask you "Did you feed the dog?" then "yes" or "no" alone is fine.

    If I see the empty bowl and say "Didn't you feed the dog?" then you should give the full answer. "Yes, I did, but he ate every last bite and licked the bowl clean." or "No, I didn't. I'll do it now."
    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.

  4. davidbailey's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Answering "not" questions.

    I love reading your replies Barb.
    For not being a teacher you do great.
    Much better than many teachers. ;)

  5. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Answering "not" questions.

    Thanks David, I really appreciate your comments.

    I'm usually more concerned with what sounds natural than with what's "correct" so I do bump head sometimes, but I try :)
    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.

  6. Nightmare85's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Answering "not" questions.

    Just think this way:
    Instead of using "yes" you could use "sure" as well.
    Then it's easier:
    Question: "Did you not eat?"
    Your answer: "Sure!" - "Of course!" etc (like a "counter-attack").
    And such answers as "Yes", "No" and so one are only short forms.
    There is no sentence like "Yes" or "No".
    The sentence continues:
    "Yes, I ate!"
    "No, I did not eat."

    Else anyone could reply to your "no":
    "No what?"

    Sometimes language and logic don't match.

    I hope I could clarify this additionally

    Cheers!

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