4

This question was spurred by some comments that sprung underneath an ELL question of mine. The comments have since been deleted.

User 1: There's nothing wrong with "Yes, I will be". (I agree that "*I'll be" is incorrect though.)

User 2: Are you sure? I don't think, "Yes, I will be" is correct. I Ngrammed "yes i will be" and got a result of zero. Also Ngrammed "yes, i will be" and "yes" got positive results, but "i will be" got zero results, too.

User 1: @_______: Yes, I'm sure. Your ngram is wrong - remember the word "I" is always capitalised; if you fix that you do get results. (Most of them are "Yes, I will be xxx", rather than just "Yes, I will be.", but if you keep searching you will find odd examples of the latter.)

User 2: Cont'd from previous comment. I checked the Ngram results for "Yes I will be" and could not find any examples. Ngram results for "Yes, I will be." and "Yes I will be." were also zero.

User 2: @______ And I realize that "I" is always capitalized. But I hadn't turned on case sensitivity, so now I'm confused why "Yes i will be" and "Yes I will be" returns different results.

In light of the various Ngram and Google Books results reported by User 1, it appears that he may be right. Is he?


Why am I asking?

In every grammar and English course book I have ever used with learners or for myself, I have never ever read the short answer: Yes, I will be. These books simply don't "teach" this type of response, the classic short answers to questions beginning with the auxiliary, will, are always given as either Yes, I will or No, I won't. The two questions which I posted were the following:

  • Will you be coming to the staff party on Thursday?
  • Will you be having cake?

In the second question, I offered the following list of short answers:

  1. Yes, thank you.
  2. Yes, I will.
  3. Yes, I will be
  4. Yes, I will do.
  • Why is answer no.3 grammatical?
  • What evidence is there to support it?
  • Is answer number 4 (above) ungrammatical?

An American user suggested that "Yes, I will do" was wrong. (Please refer to the linked question below, for further details)

Thank you


The ELL related questions which sparked the above discussion

  1. Why is “I'll be”, wrong as a short answer?
  2. Will you be having cake?
  • 2
    Without following all the prior discourse, which may or may not be relevant to the question, I can say that whether a short response to a question with material deleted is grammatical is entirely a matter of what the question is. And in writing, one can't tell what the material was because writing doesn't preserve intonation and stress, which indicate what's been deleted in context. – John Lawler Dec 22 '16 at 15:49
  • 2
    Therefore, outside of context, any discussion of whether Yes, I will be is grammatical is (a) impossible without a question, because it might work for some and not for others, and (b) impossible in writing, because it would have to be pronounced correctly to be grammatical in context. So Ngrams, which only count written material, are irrelevant. In general, questions about (un)grammaticality are really about how difficult it appears to be to create an imaginary context in which it would be appropriate to say it. If it's easy, it's grammatical; the harder it gets, the less grammatical. – John Lawler Dec 22 '16 at 15:51
  • 3
    Thanks, @Mari-LouA. I'm not trying to join the discussion; I'm trying to figure out whether there is a question here that I can answer, and if so what it is. Yes, I will be is OK because Yes, I will is fine; and that has a stressed will. Adding be doesn't shift the stress; adding do doesn't, either (but it still sounds odd to me, because responses like Yes, I'll do are not American). *Yes, I'll is bad because you can't stress I'll; *(Yes), I'll be is bad since adding be doesn't shift stress and you still can't stress I'll. I don't see a specific question, though. – John Lawler Dec 22 '16 at 16:47
  • 2
    I'm afraid I disregarded the title, since no one can ever prove anything about grammaticality, especially about transformed material like short answers. Proof is impossible in science; only mathematics and logic can prove something. – John Lawler Dec 22 '16 at 16:54
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    As for User 2, opinions on grammaticality coming from anonymous speakers of anonymous languages in anonymous countries are another thing I frequently disregard. We see very strange (but equally strongly held) opinions on English grammaticality issued by English language students all the time here. – John Lawler Dec 22 '16 at 16:58
4

Hmmf, well the question used to ask if someone could prove if this phrase was grammatical but this response inspired a edit removing that request for a proof. So what follows now seems a bit silly. I invite the first editor so inclined to delete this down to where it says "regarding edit".

Yes, I will be proving that someone can prove "Yes, I will be." is grammatical. I will do this by making up a grammar where the string "Yes, I will be." is the only grammatically correct string in the whole grammar. This makes proving it to be grammatical a tautology. It must be correct since it is how the grammar was defined. It's correct by definition.

Now, if you find that unsatisfying I invite you to cite a grammar definition that is formal enough to withstand the very idea of proofs. Proofs are rigorous but only as good as the context from which they emerge.

Otherwise we're just having a subjective argument. One that I'll win, only because my hat looks cooler. :)

As a side note, the only objection I know to this common usage is that it ends with a preposition. And we all know how Churchill felt about that.

Regarding edit:

  1. Yes, I will be

Why is answer no.3 grammatical?

It's not. Ya left off da period ya silly. No wait, that's punctuation. Yeah it's fine, if it means what it says. In fact I can imagine this exact phrasing being the point of the answer:

CandiedOrange took a piece of cake over to Mary while she was sitting with friends who were watching her unwrap gifts. CandiedOrange asked, "Will you be having cake?" Mary narrowed her eyes at this untimely interruption and responded, "Yes, I will be".

What evidence is there to support it?

Speaking of my hat, when Luke says "I'm not afraid" Yoda says, what to me sounded like the only non-mangled English he ever spoke, "You will be".

So don't go disrespecting my childhood hero. : )

  1. Yes, I will do.

Is answer number 4 (above) ungrammatical?

This is what I mean by 'if it says what it means': "Yes, I will do (nicely)." is perfectly grammatical. It also has nothing to do with the question:

Will you be having cake?

At least, not without some very convoluted backstory where you ARE the cake you're eating. I've read weirder stories, but that way lies madness.

What I'm pointing out here is that the question imposes a subset of possible meanings. There are ways to parse these words that result in them being grammatical but in the context of the question those grammatical meanings are nonsensical. So the answer is wrong. Just for a different reason.

Which means it's not the best answer to use in this question. You want something objectively ungrammatical. This is about English, not logic or philosophy.

So I vote for a new answer:

Yes, I will a.

If you know how to parse that into any meaning at all, you're more clever than I.

  • As another side note: nice to see you again Mari-Lou! – candied_orange Dec 22 '16 at 19:36
  • I've edited my question, I don't think it invalidates your answer, but you can "fix" it up, if you want. – Mari-Lou A Dec 22 '16 at 20:13
  • 1
    No problem. Just glad if it helped. – candied_orange Dec 22 '16 at 22:01
  • Your final option is clearly a perfectly logical (and grammatical?) prerequisite to the one in the question. After all, as Scandos say when they want to say “in for a penny, in for a pound”: once you will A, you will B(e) too! ;-) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 23 '16 at 0:20
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    @Mari-LouA And a merry new year to you. Wish I knew how to strike up a chat with you. – candied_orange Dec 23 '16 at 6:12
-3

Grammatically, questions are answered depending on the auxiliary verb used in the question.

For example:

A: Do you read Shakespeare?

B: Yes, I do

or

A:Will you go to the party?

B: Yes, I will

or

A:Can you write with your left-hand?

B: Yes, I can. Look...

If we analyze the answers, it is clear that the answers are formed based on the auxiliary verbs and verbs of the sentence are not taken.

Another example:

A: Did you have to go to the theatre again that day?

B: Yes, I did. I could not come back home without the umbrella

Based on this, in sentences where "be" is not auxiliary, it is not grammatically correct to answer "Yes, I will be". To be clear, the following example can be considered:

A:Will you be able to open the file if you get the password? B: Yes, I will.

However, in sentences where "will be" is a grammar verb, as in Future Continuous Tense it is correct to answer as "Yes, I will be". This is again based on what has been explained above.

  • 2
    You were going great up until the second to last sentence where I agree with absolutely everything you say except for the word 'not' – Mitch Dec 22 '16 at 13:13
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    Consider that "Yes, I will be" is an abbreviated version of "Yes, I will be doing whatever it is you just said." This is perfectly legitimate usage, even in relatively formal circumstances. – Hot Licks Dec 22 '16 at 13:16
  • This line of reasoning might work better to analyse “Yes, I will be” if you added an example that had “will be” in the question, e.g. Q: “Will you be coming to the party?” A: … – SevenSidedDie Dec 22 '16 at 18:11
  • Unfortunately, you are right. I really forgot the case of "will be" in Future Continuous Tense use :). But what I thought of when answering the question is the case of ''will be " in sentences like : A: Will you be able to open it if you get the password? B: Yes, I will. This is the case where "be'' what I call "a sentence verb" and not auxiliary. I noticed that some learners make mistake in such cases and write the short answer with "be". – AbdulAziz Rustam Ogli Dec 23 '16 at 9:21
  • *when answering the question, – AbdulAziz Rustam Ogli Dec 23 '16 at 9:22

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