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I posted this question as a non-English mother tongue.

I've seen a conversation as below (comments on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCU862nVpJ0):

A: 8:56 Looks like it's not a game!

B: yeah, it does.

So, did B agree to A or not? I am a bit confused with two interpretations.

  1. Yeah, it looks like it's not a game
  2. Yeah, it looks like it's a game

I learned to say 'yes' or 'does' for a positive response and 'no' or 'doesn't' for a negative response.

So, if B said 'does' to 'looks', the answer is (1.), but if he said 'does' against 'it is not', then the answer is (2.)

One thing is that, 'does' cannot come after be verb, so I think (1.) is more probable.

However, since I am not the native, I want to hear the answer from the native or an English expert.

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  • 7
    In English it is very difficult to answer a negative questions without ambiguity or confusion. The most detailed analysis I have seen on this site is here : english.stackexchange.com/questions/28530/…
    – Skooba
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 17:16
  • That is a really confusing case, since you have two verbs. It's lucky one of them is to be. But consider "Looks like it doesn't work right," where "yes, it does" and "no it doesn't" are both completely ambiguous. Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 21:02

1 Answer 1

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You're correct in your analysis of what verb the word "does" refers to.

It would be considered wrong in standard English to say "it does be a game" or "it does not be a game", so the "does" of the answer does not refer to the verb "to be".

And it's fine to say "it does look like it's a game" or "it does not look like it's a game", so the "does" of the answer refers to the verb "to look".

But there is still the ambiguity of whether the answer is intended to imply (1) "yeah, it does look like it's not a game", or (2) "yeah it does look like it's a game".

If the tone of the answer sounds positive, open, or otherwise agreeable, then B is probably agreeing with A, and intending choice 1, which is an acceptance of the sentence that was offered.

On the other hand, if the tone of the answer sounds defensive, indignant, or otherwise contrary, then B is probably disagreeing, and intending choice 2. This would appear to be logically inconsistent, because it's affirmative but it does not contain the sentence that was actually offered by A. Nonetheless, it's still possibly what B intends.

Without tone of voice, I would tend to assume the logically consistent answer, so choice 1. That's the sense I get from reading the comment you're referring to, so yeah, it does look like it's not a game. But generally there's no sure way to tell in a case like this, without clarification.

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  • @Lawrence: +1 for reminding me I could just refer to them as A and B. That simplifies things a bit. :-)
    – RJH
    Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 9:17

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