- This entry explains how to reply to `yes/no'-questions and `wh'-questions which are being used to ask for information.\Other ways of replying to things that people say are explained in the entries at ↑ Agreeing and disagreeing; ↑ Apologizing; ↑ Complimenting and congratulating someone; ↑ Greetings and goodbyes; ↑ Invitations; ↑ Offers; ↑ Requests, orders, and instructions; ↑ Suggestions; and ↑ Thanking someone.\◊ replying to 'yes/no'-questionsWhen you reply to a positive `yes/no'-question, you say `Yes' if the situation referred to exists and `No' if the situation does not exist.
`Did you enjoy it?' —-`Yes, it was very good.'
`Have you tried Woolworth's?' —-`Yes, I think we've tried them all.'
`Have you decided what to do?' —-`Not yet, no.'\
`Did he lose his job?' —-`No. They sent him home.'You can add an appropriate tag such as `I have' or `it isn't'. Sometimes the tag is said first.
`Are they very complicated?' —-`Yes, they are. They have quite a number of elements.'
`Have you ever been hypnotised by anyone?' —-`No, no I haven't.'\
`Did you have a look at the shop when you were there?' —-`I didn't, no.'Some people say `Yeah' instead of `Yes' when speaking informally.\
`Have you got one?' —-`Yeah.'People sometimes make the sound `Mm' instead of saying `Yes'.\
`Is it very expensive?' —-`Mm, it's quite pricey.'Sometimes you can answer a question with an adverb of degree.
`Did she like it?' —-`Oh, very much, said it was marvellous.'If you feel a `No' answer is not quite accurate, you can say `Not really' or `Not exactly' instead or as well.
`Right, is that any clearer now?' —-`Not really, no.'
`Have you thought at all about what you might do?' —-`No, not really.'\
`Has Davis suggested that?' —-`Not exactly, but I think he'd be glad to get away.'If the question has `or' in it, you reply with a word or group of words that indicates what the situation is. You only use a whole clause for emphasis or if you want to make your answer really clear.
`Do you want traveller's cheques or currency?' —-`Traveller's cheques.'
`Are they undergraduate courses or postgraduate courses?' —-`Mainly postgraduate.'\
`Are cultured pearls synthetic or are they real pearls?' —-`They are real pearls, but a tiny piece of mother-of-pearl has been inserted in each oyster.'Often when people ask a question, they do not want just a `Yes' or `No' answer; they want detailed information of some kind. In reply to questions like this, people sometimes do not say `Yes' or `No' but just give the information, often after `Well'.
`Do you have any plans yourself for any more research in this area?' —-`Well, I hope to look more at mixed ability teaching.'\
`Did you find any difficulties when you were interviewing people from the University?' —-`Well, most of them are very articulate, and in fact the problem on occasions was actually shutting them up!'◊ replying to negative 'yes/no'-questionsNegative `yes/no'-questions are usually used when the speaker thinks the answer will be, or should be, `Yes'.\You should reply to questions of this kind with `Yes' if the situation does exist and `No' if the situation does not exist, just as you would reply to a positive question. For example, if someone says `Hasn't James phoned?', you reply `No' if he hasn't phoned.
`Haven't they just had a conference or something?' —-`Yes.'
`Haven't you any socks or anything with you?' —-`Well — oh, yes — in that suitcase.'
`Didn't he comment on your research, or your style, or anything?' —-`No. He just called it good.'\
`Didn't you like it, then?' —-`Not much.'If you are replying to a negative statement which is said as a question, you reply `No' if the statement is true.
`So you've never been guilty of physical violence?' —-`No.'\
`You didn't mind me coming in?' —-`No, don't be daft.'If you are replying to a positive statement said as a question, you reply `Yes' if the statement is true.
`He liked it?' —-`Yes, he did.'\
`You've heard me speak of Angela?' —-`Oh, yes.'◊ replying when uncertainIf you do not know the answer to a `yes/no'-question, you say `I don't know' or `I'm not sure'.
`Did they print the list?' —-`I don't know.'\
`Is there any chance of you getting away this summer?' —-`I'm not sure.'You can also sometimes use `could', `might', or `may'.
`Is it yours?' —-`It could be.'
`Is there a file on me somewhere?' —-`Well, there might be.'\
`Did you drive down that road towards Egletons on Friday morning?' —-`I might have done.'If you think the situation probably exists, you say `I think so'.
`Do you understand?' —-`I think so.'\
`Will he be all right?' —-`Yes, I think so.'American speakers often say `I guess so'.\
`Can we go inside?' —-`I guess so.'If you are making a guess, you can also say `I should think so', `I would think so', `I expect so', or `I imagine so'.
`Will Sarah be going?' —-`I would think so, yes.'\
`Did you say anything when I first came up to you?' —-`Well, I expect so, but how on earth can I remember now?'If you are rather unenthusiastic or unhappy about the situation, you say `I suppose so'.\
`Are you on speaking terms with them now?' —-`I suppose so.'If you think the situation probably does not exist, you say `I don't think so'.
`Was there any paper in the safe?' —-`I don't think so.'\
`Did you ever meet Mr Innes?' —-`No, I don't think so.'If you are making a guess, you can also say `I shouldn't think so', `I wouldn't think so', or `I don't expect so'.
`Would Nick mind, do you think?' —-`No, I shouldn't think so.'\
`Is my skull fractured?' —-`I shouldn't think so.'◊ replying to 'wh'-questionsIn replying to `wh'-questions, people usually use one word or a group of words instead of a full sentence.
`How old are you?' —-`Thirteen.'
`How do you feel?' —-`Strange.'
`What sort of iron did she get?' —-`A steam iron.'
`Where are we going?' —-`Up the coast.'\
`Why did you run away?' —-`Because Michael lied to me.'Sometimes, however, a full sentence is used, for example when giving the reason for something.\
`Why did you quarrel with your wife?' —-`She disapproved of what I'm doing.'If you do not know the answer, you say `I don't know' or `I'm not sure'.
`What shall we do?' —-`I don't know.'\
`How old were you then?' —-`I'm not sure.'
Useful english dictionary. 2012.