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Learning Article : Confirming Negatives In English

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Confirming Negatives In English

You do know how to answer yes or no questions in English, don't you? Are you not sure? Check this out to clear up your questions about how to answer questions. It might be a little different from how people would respond in your native language, so pay close attention.

Jul 20, 2016 12:00 AM
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In sum, if someone says You didn't see the accident, did you?, you should reply No, I didn't or That's right ...!

If I want to give a positive answer, does it right to say 'Yes, I did'? And does That's right represent negative under all circumstances?

July 20, 2016

First remember that these guidelines in English are only for negative affirming yes/no questions only.  You identify this type by the negative connotation of their longer, leading declaration and tag lines at the end.

Such negative-conviction questions signal the inquirer's desire for a confirmation/clarification or else a dis-confirmation/correction (the tag lines' suggestion and function) of his persuasion.  Thus the best reply is a yes or no response to the longer assertions/larger, implied convictions, as stated at the first. The tag lines are less vital - simply signals suggesting alternatives to the hearer's persuasion or doubt.

There are two basic ways to answer such negative belief, yes/no questions.  First,  you are to respond with a yes (confirm) or no (disconfirm) to the inquirer's basic conviction or asserted view. Then you either repeat or dis-confirm its oppositely connoted tag line.  This structure can make answering highly detailed (actually - "picky"), technical and grammatically complex.  Why not try agreeing by saying, "I agree with that!"? Then explain your own view.

The simple guide: IF YOU AGREE WITH A NEGATIVE ASSERTION, simply say, "No, I don't/can't/won't/am not", etc.  Negative assertions have a positive tag line (that says the opposite is okay also) and you have to respond to both parts.  To agree, you repeat the leading declaration's "no connotation" or reflect its negative implication: (Eg.,"You don't ..., do you?"   Agreeing Answer.  "No, I don't.") Agree with the first, longer negative conviction and strike down its alternative, the questioning tag line (doubt's flip-side).

IF YOU DISAGREE WITH THE NEGATIVE ASSERTION, declare the opposite of the inquirer's view.  ("You don't..., do you?  Disagreeing Ans. "Yes, I do!" Emphasize "Yes!")  Disagree with the longer doubt line; the tag gets agreed with instead.


August 9, 2016
Such tag questions made me confused sometimes.
July 27, 2016

Tag Question. That's how I learnt that type of questions and I found it very easy. We just have to see it this way: If the question is negative, the answer will be positive. If the question is positive, answer will be negative.

Example: You aren't sure about this, are you? Yes, I'm sure. 

I think would be even illogical to answer: Yes, I'm not sure. 

You either are sure or not. 

July 27, 2016
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Language Skills
English, Japanese
Learning Language
Japanese