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    #1

    Colloquial language question

    Hi,

    I have a question:

    -I tried to call you before, but it seemed you weren't home.

    -Yes/No.

    Which one of the replies above means that "I WASN'T at home" ?

    Thanks in advance.


    • Join Date: Nov 2007
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    #2

    Re: Colloquial language question

    The sentence is correct, and very politely, delicately expressed! The phrasing has a suggestion you don't believe he wasn't home:, the man just didn't want to either answer the phone, or come to the phone when someone else answered it.
    You don't have a second sentence to be able to answer your second question.
    Last edited by David L.; 02-Dec-2007 at 00:45.


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
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    #3

    Re: Colloquial language question

    Quote Originally Posted by Super Sonic View Post
    Hi,

    I have a question:

    -I tried to call you before, but it seemed you weren't home.

    -Yes/No.

    Which one of the replies above means that "I WASN'T at home" ?

    Thanks in advance.
    The person replying is not saying!

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    #4

    Re: Colloquial language question

    Thank you two, but I mean can we say:

    "Yes, I wasn't"? It sounds weird to me, but when I translate this sentence into my native language, it means "I wasn't at home." with no grammatical mistakes. However, if the person begins with a "no" type reply, it sounds like he is going to say that "he WAS at home." (since we use "no" to disagree with someone, am I right?) but then again, the complete sentence should be "No, I WASN'T." So, I'm kind of confused here:S


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    #5

    Re: Colloquial language question

    English seems to have different grammar as measured against other languages.


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
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    #6

    Re: Colloquial language question

    Quote Originally Posted by Super Sonic View Post
    Thank you two, but I mean can we say:

    "Yes, I wasn't"? It sounds weird to me, but when I translate this sentence into my native language, it means "I wasn't at home." with no grammatical mistakes. However, if the person begins with a "no" type reply, it sounds like he is going to say that "he WAS at home." (since we use "no" to disagree with someone, am I right?) but then again, the complete sentence should be "No, I WASN'T." So, I'm kind of confused here:S
    English is flexible - you can bend it to your meaning!

    I tried to call you before, but it seemed you weren't home.

    No, I wasn't home >> the person is concentrating on the fact he was not home
    No, I was home > the person is concentrating on the fact he was home, so no, the assumption he was out was wrong.

    Yes, I wasn't home >> the person is agreeing with the assumption that he was out.
    Yes, I was home >> the person is disagreeing with the assumption that he was out and is affirming that he was at home at the time.


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    #7

    Re: Colloquial language question

    That depends on intonation, doesn't it?

  1. rewboss's Avatar

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    #8

    Re: Colloquial language question

    Other languages have more than one word for "yes" and/or "no". For example, French has "oui" for "yes", "non" for "no", and "si" for "that negative statement is incorrect". German has "ja", "nein" and "doch" respectively.

    Welsh goes even further: it doesn't have special words that translate as "yes" or "no", but instead uses a form of the verb, negated if necessary. For example:

    Oes rhaid i fi fynd?
    Must I go? (Literally: "Is [there] need on me to go?")

    Oes.
    Yes. (Literally: "[There] is.")

    Nag oes.
    No. (Literally: "[There] not is.")

    Hoffech chi treio'r sgert?
    Would you like to try on the skirt?

    Hoffwn.
    Yes. (Literally: "[I] would like [to]".)

    Na hoffwn.
    No. (Literally: "[I] would not like [to]".)

    That solves a lot of problems, of course, so why don't we have a system like that in English?

    Well, in fact, we do: we don't simply say "yes" or "no", we continue with a little tag. The answers to the questions above would, in English, be something like this:

    Yes, you must.
    No, you don't have to.
    Yes, I would.
    No, I wouldn't.

    And that is a big help when confronted with questions like this:

    "Weren't you at home last night?"

    If the other person simply says "Yes", does he mean: "That is correct; I wasn't at home", or: "I am denying your negative by giving you a positive answer; I was at home." A better answer is either "Yes, I was", or "No, I wasn't".

    In fact, you'll often hear conversations that go like this:

    "Weren't you at home last night?"
    "Yes."
    "Do you mean: Yes, you were; or: Yes, you weren't?"
    "Yes, I was."

  2. #9

    Re: Colloquial language question

    I can only add that this point causes confusion even among native speakers.

    "Didn't you go to the movie last night?" can't be answered simply "yes" or "no."

    You'd have to answer "Yes, I did" or "No, I didn't."

    What Rewboss said about Welsh is also true of Chinese and sometimes Hindi.

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    #10

    Re: Colloquial language question

    Thank you all :)

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