Disclaimer: While this question can relate to any language, there may be common interpretations specific to the English language.

We have two people (denoted A or B).

Say Person A poses a question, perhaps, "How did you find us?" (in reference to a Hide and Seek game). Now Person B responds "Well, I did see a ribbon on the ground that I know belongs to you. Wouldn't you think that indicates something?"

I am focusing on the latter part of Person B's response, "Wouldn't you think that indicates something?" Obviously, the answer is yes. The ribbon that belongs to Person A would indicate that Person A has near the spot of the ribbon.

However, I am unsure of whether that question Person B posed should be considered as a question to emphasize the point of Person B's response (the point that the ribbon was the reason Person B was able to find Person A) or a question breaking down the response into more understandable terms (by making the reasons on why Person B found Person A more obvious), which then assumes the unintellegence of a person (which can be considered rude).

Now, bringing this back to the global scope. Are questions that have an obvious answer appropriate in responses to someone else? Generally, are these questions considered to be emphasizing the point or considered to be deeming the other person as unintellegible (by breaking down the response to a point where the other person will have no trouble understanding it, due to the obvious answer that can be formed in regards to the posed question)?

2 Answers 2


Because our communication with others is always subject to their perception of our meaning, the answer probably lies with whether or not you think they will take it one way or the other.

In a broad sense, unless the individual is very perceptive, analytical and unassuming they will probably take this specific example in a way that would cause them to be offended.

As far as word choice...in order to best represent your intent by the question you must place yourself in the hearer's shoes. Maybe you could word it in a way that places the listener in your shoes...

If you had seen the ribbon and you knew I had one like that, would you have found me?

Very obvious answer (at least it should be) and yet it really doesn't denote that the hearer is unintelligent... Unless they admit their lack of intelligence by answering that they would not have found you! ;)

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    I do a see a different tone in the example question you provided versus the one in the OP, thank you for your answer :) May 19, 2016 at 2:35

What you refer to is a rhetorical question, one asked to make a statement rather than to elicit an answer. These are a common device in English writing and conversation. For example, "Is the Pope Catholic?" or "Does a bear shit in the woods?" are common conversational questions offered in response to questions whose answer ("yes") is so obvious that the answerer is making a point of that.

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