When a person asks "Do you mind if I ..." The response now days seems to be "Yes ..sure go ahead" which to me means they DO mind.. I hear this constantly on TV and in the work place, it just seems to bug me...

  • This doesn't imply a change in the meaning of the question, but rather the prevalence of a misunderstanding of the basic English rules used in the phrase. "Do you mind if I do X?" still means the same as it used to ("Would you be upset if I do X"?). The answer is still "Yes, I do mind" or "No, I don't mind." People have simply shortened the response to yes or no, and affirmative answers seem to be seen as more polite, regardless of their meaning, so people just answer "yes".
    – TylerH
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 18:02
  • IMHO, the phrase "Do you mind if..." is inelegant and imprecise. In many (if not most) cases, the asker doesn't really want to know the internal thoughts of the respondent; he or she simply wants to know if the respondent will allow it. The question demands mental gymnastics that can complicate the conversation: What if the respondent does mind, but will allow the action anyway? What if he or she doesn't mind, but knows of some reason that the asker isn't allowed to perform the action? I would prefer to hear the phrase "May I..." when the asker merely wants permission. Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 18:37

4 Answers 4


What I hear when somebody says "Do you mind if I.." is indistinguishable from "May I..", just a bit softer. So I'm definitely a culprit in your books. It wasn't even immediately obvious what was bothering you about it.

There's also the other "Do you *mind*?" that is not a question at all.

  • Sorry, what do you mean by "other "Do you mind?"" That is certainly still a question.
    – TylerH
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 18:10
  • @TylerH It's not a question. It's something along the lines of a verbal "cease and desist". The question mark indicates the intonation. Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 18:15
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    It is a question, actually. It is the same question as the one in the original post of this thread. The only difference is that only the first half is said to facilitate the generality of the possible situations. It might be a rather pointed question, but it is still a question, nonetheless.
    – TylerH
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 18:19
  • 1
    @TylerH Okay, a rhetorical question. Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 18:25
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    It's definitely rhetorical and very pointed. Say that someone enters your office and instead of politely taking a seat on the obvious visitor chair, or simply standing to deliver a question or make some greeting, sits on your desk, uninvited. This is generally perceived as disrespectful and the dissed one behind the desk might say "Do you mind?" with a look clearly directed at spot on the desk that the sitter is occupying. The question is not meant to be answered, but is a barely polite way of saying "Get off my desk, jerk!" There is no response expected but to comply, perhaps with "Sorry!" Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 19:11

The wrong answer is usually given to the question Do you mind?

For instance: "Do you mind if I borrow your book?" Most people would answer "Yes." This is given incorrectly. "Yes" means "Yes I do mind. You can't borrow the book." The correct answer is "No." "No" means "No I don't mind if you borrow the book."

The words "Do you mind..." have the same sense as "Would it bother you..." and you would complete the question with a phrase along the lines of "if I did X?"

This is what the article is speaking of. A full answer shortened to one word which is often misrepresented.


Actually the required answer to this question should be "No,I don't mind."this creates atmosphere of showing that you have accepted what you were questioned about

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    This is virtually the same answer as this existing answer. At the very least, you should edit your answer so that it's correctly capitalised and punctuated - we are after all a site specialising in the English Language, so it's preferred that our answers model good English. For further guidance, see How to Answer and take the Tour :-) Commented Nov 27, 2018 at 5:27

No, the meaning has not changed. An example of when another person had no clue what it means: A co-worker and I were about to start our shift. On this job, one person starts at the front desk, and the other goes around on foot, checking things. Every two hours we switch. This co-worker came in and asked (quote) "Do you mind starting at the desk? I said "No'. This co-worker proceeded to go to the front desk and sit down, as though I had said "Yes'.

I am sure my reply to this co-worker's question did not require a "Yes" answer, since I wanted to start at the front desk. This co-worker obviously was not familiar with simple English Grammar. Had this co-worker asked "Do you mind if I start at the front desk?", that would have been an entirely different matter (and reply from me). No, the meaning has not changed.

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