1

Similar question has been asked before; however, I would like to clarify the convention around "No" as I have not been able to find anything conclusive.

Does one put a comma or period after "No", when what comes after No" does not merely "echo" the question asked, but rather provides an alternative answer to the question, essentially explaining "No".

Consider the example:

Are you going home after work?

No(./,) I am going to the party.

Can one argue here that "No" stands for "No, I am not going home" and hence require a period, as what follows it "I am going to the party" is essentially a second independent clause. The full version would read "No I am not going to home. I am going to the party".

Or would it be acceptable to answer with "No" + alternative answer separated by comma?

According to Margie Wakeman Wells: Court Reporting Resource, Books and Seminars on Good Grammar and Punctuation, period should be placed in this case:

When the words after yes and no “echo” the words of the question, use a comma.

…Q: Did you go with her?

…A: Yes, I did.

…Q: Were you the only one there?

…A: No, I was not the only one there.

Everything else after yes and no takes a period.

…Q: Did you go with her?

…A: Yes. Someone had to help her out.

…Q: Were you the only one there?

…A: No. My brother was with me.

Similar guidelines are given by Morson's English Guide for Court Reporters:

RULE 59

At the beginning of a sentence, use a comma after yes or no if the statement that follows confirms the yes or no.

EXAMPLES Q. Do you have a license?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. Does your license expire this month?

A. No, it does not.

If the statement that follows yes or no explains or adds to the original response, use a period after yes or no.

EXAMPLES

Q. Do you have a license?

A. No. It was revoked last year.

Q. Have you applied for reinstatement of your license?

A. Yes. I need it for my delivery service.

Both of these style guides are written for court transcription, so might be quite specialist in nature, but do we really put periods in cases above, or would commas be justified as well?

If commas are justified, does that mean "No" and "Yes" in examples above do not stand for independent clauses but are rather grammatical particles attached to the independent clause answers that follow these "Yes" and "No"?

3

Should a comma go after a one-word answer to a question?

Yes, put a comma afterwards when what ensues flows directly from it and sums up the answer.

Should a comma go after a one-word answer to a question?

No. Say the following sentence does not flow in direct response to the question. Say that it does not sum up the basis for that answer. In that case, do not put a comma. Instead, put a period. You may also put a period if you want to better punctuate or emphasize the one-word response.

What are yes and no?

Adverbs. When used to answer interrogatives, they are nothing more or less than that.

Why can we put a period after one-word answers when they are not complete sentences?

Because an answer is allowed to be but a word or a subordinate clause. In natural speech, the first utterance after a question is most often not a complete sentence but a compliment to the sentence that devised the question.

  • 1
    See what I did there? My answers exemplified the answers to the questions, Paul. – Benjamin Harman Jan 17 '16 at 17:17
  • Ooh! I got that! – deadrat Jan 17 '16 at 17:42
  • The classification of yes and no has generated some disagreement. Go here: english.stackexchange.com/questions/78678/… – deadrat Jan 17 '16 at 17:43
  • @deadrat Even if there could be some disagreement, we could agree that it could constitute a sentence. Any adverb alone could constitute a sentence. "Quickly", "Faster", "Now". Ooops. Aracauria said now is a preposition. :-) – user140086 Jan 17 '16 at 17:59
  • @Rathony No doubt. (Heh!) – deadrat Jan 17 '16 at 18:02

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