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How to answer a negative question without ambiguity?
Response to “Would you not do it?”

When a negative question is asked, what is the grammatically correct way to answer? If someone asks you Didn't you come by car today?, what is the correct answer?

marked as duplicate by coleopterist, tchrist, RegDwigнt Oct 2 '12 at 9:13

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    I will give you an opportunity to split this into two questions; in any case, I will ultimately remove one question. – Kosmonaut Jan 26 '11 at 15:05

The first question can be answered unambiguously by I came by car today, or I did not come by car today.

(Sorry if that's not quite the answer you were looking for, but in my experience with people, trying both, neither monosyllabic answer works very well across many trials.)


Due to the inherently ambiguous nature of the question, I prefer to answer this type of inquiry with either "No, I didn't" or "Yes, I did."

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    I personally prefer to reply with: "No, I did." or "Yes, I didn't". – zzzzBov Feb 3 '11 at 16:52

1) You would answer 'no'. The affirmative answer should correspond to the question. So:

Positive Question: Did you come by car? Affirmative: Yes (positive) Negative: No (negative)

Negative Question: Didn't you come by car? Affirmative: No (negative) Negative: Yes (positive)

So a positive question is answered in the affirmative by a positive, and vice versa for negative questions.

  • Are you saying that "Didn't you come by car," when answered "No" means you DID come by car? It's not clear to me whether the No is negating the question itself (that you did NOT come by car) or negating the proposition of having come by car. – ErikE May 21 '11 at 22:12
  • This makes no sense, either linguistically or logically. Yes is always the affirmative, and no is always the negative. The polarity of the question does not matter. – NobleUplift Sep 29 '15 at 17:38

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