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  1. Boris Tatarenko's Avatar
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    #1

    Negative questions

    I don't know why but this question has just popped up in my mind. I haven't found a satisfying answer, that's why I'm asking it here.

    How should I answer negative questions?

    Don't you want to eat?

    1. Yes, I do. (means that the person who is asking the question is wrong because I want to eat)
    2. No, I don't. (means that the person is right. I don't want to eat right now)

    or

    3. Yes, I don't. (means that the person is right because I don't want to eat)
    4. No, I do. (means that the person is completely wrong because I actually want to eat something)

    It's so awkward because I'm supposed to know such things for sure at my level of English.
    Last edited by Boris Tatarenko; 20-Aug-2016 at 20:13. Reason: satisfying instead of satisfactory.
    Please, correct all my mistakes. I should know English perfectly and if you show me my mistakes I will achieve my dream a little bit faster. A lot of thanks.

    Not a teacher nor a native speaker.

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    #2

    Re: Negative questions

    1 and 2 are correct. 3 and 4 are not possible.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #3

    Re: Negative questions

    I struggle with #1.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Negative questions

    I would accept 4. If someone said (in context), "Don't you want to eat?", I can certainly imagine saying "No, no! I do! Just not right now". The "No, no" would mean "You're wrong" or "To the contrary". "I do" means "Actually, I do want to eat". However, I would then go on to explain exactly what I mean.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  3. Junior Member
    Interested in Language
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    #5

    Re: Negative questions

    Even mre critical is this one:

    Question: You don't wan't to eat?
    My Feeling says:
    1. Yes, I do. (means that the person who is asking the question is wrong because I want to eat)
    2. No, I don't. (means that the person is right. I don't want to eat right now)

    Somehow my logic says completely the opposite:
    1. Yes, I do = Yes, I do not want to eat (means that the person is right. I don't want to eat right now)
    2. No, I don't. = No, I do not want to not eat (means that the person who is asking the question is wrong because I want to eat)

    Are my feelings or my logic saying the truth?

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    #6

    Re: Negative questions

    I would go with your feelings.

  4. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Negative questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Boris Tatarenko View Post
    Don't you want to eat?
    As a non-native, I would answer either 'I do want' or 'I don't want' to avoid confusion and misunderstanding.
    I am not a teacher.

  5. HaraKiriBlade's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Negative questions

    I watched this documentary a few years ago that attempted to explain linguistics differences in eastern and western countries by drawing upon their cultural differences, and it had an interesting take on how and why the East and the West seem to be different in their way of answering negative questions. The dichotomy isn't absolute and I do admit it's an overgeneralization, but there certainly seems to be a tendency.

    In eastern countries, answering negative questions would be more like 3 and 4, whereas it would more likely to be 1 and 2 in the western part of the globe. The documentary explains that the difference comes from how they perceive the world.

    The easterners see themselves through the eyes of others, so when they are faced with negative questions like the one in this post, their answers are basically, "Yes, you are correct. I don't want to eat" and "No, you are not correct. I do want to eat."

    People in the West - again, I am generalizing and can't say this applies to all languages in the western hemisphere - see objects from their own perspectives. (Don't we all, you might ask, and no, this doesn't mean people in the east lack their own perspective, but I think it's a matter of priority here)

    So in a way, for them, it doesn't matter what the other person asks. If you want to eat, your answer is always yes regardless of whether the question is positive or negative. Your answer is always a "no" if you do not want to eat, regardless of whether the question is "Do you want to eat?" or "Don't you want to eat?"
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 23-Aug-2016 at 22:10.

  6. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Negative questions

    Quote Originally Posted by HaraKiriBlade View Post
    In eastern countries, answering negative questions would be more like 3 and 4,
    That is the case in my country.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #10

    Re: Negative questions

    Quote Originally Posted by HaraKiriBlade View Post
    ... it doesn't matter what the other person asks. If you want to eat, your answer is always yes regardless of whether the question is positive or negative. Your answer is always a "no" if you do not want to eat, regardless of whether the question is "Do you want to eat?" or "Don't you want to eat?"
    That sums it up perfectly.

    If you want to eat and you say 'no', you're not going to get anything.

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