I am currently writing a scientific publication in which the conclusion answers overarching questions. These questions are directly stated with question marks, like:

Is there a meaning to life?

I want to give a direct answer to these questions in the form of:

This question can be answered with a clear yes.

However, this is quite unprofessional. I am looking for a way to express "yes" or "no" in a more professional manner.

For yes, I found:

This question can be answered in the affirmative.

Is this the correct way of doing it, or is the use of this phrase limited to legal issues?

What is the equivalent for "no"? I just found:

This question has to be answered negatively.

However, negatively implies the use of positively in the yes case instead of affirmative.

  • 7
    I don't think there's anything 'unprofessional' about saying "This question can be answered with a clear yes." Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 10:35
  • 5
    IMO clarity and simplicity beats esoteric; not that "affirmative" and "negatively" are difficult to understand per se, but just because "yes" and "no" are shorter words it doesn't mean they are less powerful. I think you're asking for "more formal equivalents of ‘yes and ‘no‘” than "professional"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 11:45
  • 1
    Aren't rhetorical questions rather unusual for a scientific publication? Indeed, they are.
    – TimR
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 17:21
  • What kind of scientific publication? If you're about to explain the meaning of life, it sounds like you're writing a work for a general audience rather than a PhD thesis or research paper (where the standard of proof would be higher). If writing for a general audience, it's even more important to not search online for obscure euphemisms and flowery language that are known only to the elite.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 18:04

1 Answer 1


There is a common misperception that long and complicated ways of saying things are somehow more "intellectual" or "professional". This is not true. It's something said by people whose only claim to intellect or professionalism is the ability to speak in complicated jargon, and who use that ability to try and demean others.

The truly professional (or intellectual) speak in simple clear ways. The most professional way to say "yes" is "yes". The most professional way to say "no" is "no". If you expand on that it should only be for precision or emphasis. Everything else is obscurantism.

Your direct answer is entirely professional.


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