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If posed with the subject question, given that I will not do the action in question, then what is the correct answer

No, I will not do it.

or

Yes, I will not do it.

#1 sounds better to me, but #2 is more logical. #1 sounds somewhat paradoxical in context of the question.

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1  
No, I would not do it. –  kiamlaluno Oct 2 '10 at 19:35
3  
The more interesting question is what to say if you will do it... neither "No, I will do it" or "Yes, I will do it" seems to work. –  ShreevatsaR Oct 3 '10 at 2:11
    
Er...I scratch my head and equivocate. –  Brian Hooper Oct 3 '10 at 9:00
    
I would always say #2, but I always restate the question anyway, so whether I say "yes" or "no" is pretty much irrelevant. –  Jon Purdy Oct 3 '10 at 18:43

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I would use the first one as "No" asserts negativity. The following Wikipedia post could be helpful here:

According to Grimes, the answer "yes" asserts a positive answer and the answer "no" asserts a negative answer, irrespective of the form of the question. But in fact simple "Yes" or "No" word sentence answers to yes-no questions can be ambiguous in English. For example, a "Yes" response to the question "You don't beat your wife?" could mean either "Yes, I don't beat my wife." or "Yes, I do beat my wife." depending from whether the respondent is replying with the truth-value of the situation, or is replying to the polarity used in the question. This ambiguity does not exist in languages that employ echo answers. In the Welsh language, for example, the response "ydw" ("I am") has no such ambiguity when replying to a question.

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3  
Midhat's logic is used in some languages, like Korean and Japanese. Responding "yes" in those languages means "your question as written/spoken is true" and "no" means "your question as written/spoken" is false. But in English we do as Mehper describes. –  Kosmonaut Sep 22 '10 at 11:30

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