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A) No, I didn't miss you.

B) Yes, I didn't miss you.

C) No, I did miss you.

D) Yes, I did miss you.

According to my common sense perfect answers can be C) and B) only, and reason behind it is- "didn't" is used/asked in the question, so if the person answering the question agrees with the person asking the question he will probably say "Yes, I didn't miss you," and if he does not agree he should answer "No, I did miss you."

I have checked online everywhere and all four are treated as correct. So, just asking to the experts present here for their views on this, in any context of English language or usage.

EDIT1 : Actually i was hoping that the SPEAKER Of QUESTION can tweak the question to get the desired answers only( only (B), and (C) in my case).But, the English seems to be weak to me after reading all the answers and responses from the experts,as the SPEAKER OF ANSWER totally has the control of the responses and he can speak any of the all four answers A,B,C,D.

What if the question asked was :

Do you miss me a little? OR Did you miss me a little? OR SIMPLY Did you miss me?

I guess again all the previous answers A,B,C,D are correct. ;-)

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4 Answers 4

Unlike some other languages, "yes" and "no" in English do not convey agreement and disagreement (respectively) with a question which is negative: they are much more likely to match the negativity of the answer given.

So, A) and D) are the overwhelmingly more likely answers than B) or C).

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That said, this is a point of sufficient ambiguity that even native speakers often sidestep the whole issue by responding with a more complete sentence, often dropping the yes or no altogether. (i.e. "Of course I missed you!" or "Of course not!") –  LessPop_MoreFizz Jun 19 '12 at 23:28
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@LessPop_MoreFizz I can definitely attest to doing that on numerous occasions for just that reason. I mean, I've gotten so frustrated at times I've walked away swearing like a sailor with Tourette's. –  shinyspoongod Jun 20 '12 at 0:11
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I've really enjoyed mulling over this question. All four answers are plausible: A or B if the speaker wasn't missed; C or D if the speaker was. The yes and no in each answer can refer either to the "right?" in the original question [as in B & C], or as ways to emphasize that the person was (or was not) missed [as in A & D].

Colin has explained it very well, although I'm not so sure that A & D are “overwhelmingly more likely.” If, upon returning from a business trip, a man's wife asked him this loaded question ("You didn't miss me, did you?"), I think he might be more likely to answer with C than D, although it'd probably be better punctuated like this:

No! I did miss you!

(Starting with a "Yes" might land him in the doghouse before he was able to complete the rest of his sentence.)

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Yes, you can tweak the question to get the desired response. You can say,

Can you please say 'Yes, I didn't miss you' if you didn't miss me, and 'No, I did miss you' if you did miss me?"

What this has to do with how "strong" or "weak" English is, I don't know.

I don't see why the questioner should have any special interest in forcing a response where the adverb is positive and the sentence is negative, or vice versa. (In any case if that "strengthens" the questioner it would thereby "weaken" the responder.")

Because if the questioner can force a limited range of responses from the responder to a question, doesn't the responder simply become weaker in comparison? Doesn't seem to reflect much on English "strength" at all--whatever you mean by that.

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For clarity, I like to avoid questions that end in single words like "right?" The problem with that kind of question is, are you "right?"ing (a) the main verb by itself or (b) the whole sentence, which has the negative particle in it?

Instead I ask questions that end in "didn't I", or "hasn't she?", or "isn't it?" or "are they?" etc. The meaning of answers to these questions are usually unambiguous.

You didn't miss me, did you?

Answers:

  • I did
  • Yes, I did (miss you)
  • No, I didn't
  • No
  • I didn't
  • No, I did [this last one breaks the pattern, but out of all options most greatly emphasizes the idea of "you (=the questioner) are wrong in your assumptions--I actually missed you." Here "No" and "I did" are almost like two separate sentences.]

(*Yes by itself sounds wrong as an answer to this question.)

Note that

You didn't miss me, didn't you?*

is always incorrect.

On the other side we have

You missed me, didn't you?

Answers:

  • Yes
  • I did
  • Yes, I did (miss you)
  • No, I didn't
  • No [No by itself sounds very strong here--curt, brusque, an attempt to cut off further questioning and communication]
  • I didn't

Finally, we have a fourth construction, one which might seem ungrammatical at first, but is not...

You missed me, did you?

However, this is entirely different kind of question compared to the two above. This kind of question is 'emotionally charged' in a number of possible ways. It is usually more of a rhetorical question. A father to whom it is obvious that he has been missed might ask this question jokingly to a child that needs comforting. The purpose of the question is to invite an exploration of feelings or to open a conversation offering support to the child, not to gather information. The question might also be asked in sarcastic skepticism to somebody that claims to have missed the questioner. In this case the question means "I don't really believe you; you're going to have to do a better job of convincing me."

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