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Now, this is something all native english speakers should have learned in grade school, but many non-native english speakers don't know how to answer a question unambiguously.

In particular, in the comments for this question (don't worry about the meaning) the response to my request for clarification is as unclear as the original question.

So, how would you answer my question (see the link), and how should one generally answer simple yes/no questions?

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closed as not a real question by RegDwigнt Mar 25 '12 at 11:07

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
His response is to your first statement, "Your question is not clear at all." He responds, "Yeah! you are right [it's not clear]" and then explains why- he doesn't know how to express it. He does not address your second question. Generally, one should answer a simple yes/no question with a yes or no and optionally add some words to remove any ambiguity in your answer: "You don't look well, are you feeling okay?" "No." (slightly ambiguous making asker follow-up with, "No what?" to which you could answer either: "No, I don't look well do I?" or "No I don't feel well." –  Jim Mar 25 '12 at 5:38
    
Yeah, post that as an answer, and I'll accept it. It's late and I'm annoyed with his disrespect of the English language, so I wanted him to learn how to properly answer simple questions (and provide a resource to other ESL people). –  jordoex Mar 25 '12 at 5:45
    
I only understood what he actually meant because he edited the title of his question by copy and pasting my clarification, without changing it from second person to third person. –  jordoex Mar 25 '12 at 5:51
    
I am closing this for a number of reasons. First of all, "how should one generally answer simple yes/no questions" is too broad. Secondly, "how would you answer my question" is too localized, subjective and argumentative, and does not include the information needed to answer it "(see the link)". Thirdly, this is not a site for peeving. If you are annoyed with someone, please vent your frustration on Reddit or Facebook. Lastly, my very personal two cents are that people who cannot be bothered to capitalize "English" do not get to accuse others of disrespecting it. –  RegDwigнt Mar 25 '12 at 11:21
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1 Answer 1

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I would challenge your assertion: "Many speakers don't know how to answer a question unambiguously."

Not every question can be answered simply and unambiguously; it's situational. Not every yes-or-no question can be answered with a simple yes or no.

The classic example is "Have you stopped beating your wife?"

If you're not getting a straightforward answer, perhaps you haven't asked a straightforward question.

Consider the question, "Would you like some beef for breakfast?"

Perhaps I'd rather have beef for dinner; perhaps I'd rather have ham for breakfast. But if I'm hungry, and my choice is between beef and nothing, then I'd rather have beef for breakfast.

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Brilliant example of wife beating. This kind of question should be asked to someone, in public, just for playing a practical prank! ;) –  TheIndependentAquarius Jul 31 '12 at 11:58
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