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Possible Duplicate:
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?

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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
    Commented Jan 26, 2011 at 15:05

3 Answers 3

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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.)

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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
    Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 16:52
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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.

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  • 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
    Commented May 21, 2011 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. Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 17:38

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