Interrogative | responses

Responses

Responses to questions are often reduced to elliptical sentences rather than full sentences, since in many cases only the information specially requested needs to be provided. (See Answer ellipsis.) Also many (but not all) languages have words that function like the English yes and no, used to give short answers to yes–no questions. In languages that do not have words compared to English yes and no, e.g. Chinese, speakers may need to answer the question according to the question. For example, when asked 喜歡喝茶嗎?(Do you like tea?), one has to answer 喜歡 (literally like) for affirmative or 不喜歡 (literally not like) for negative. But when asked 你打籃球嗎? (Do you play basketball?), one needs to answer 我打 (literally I play) for affirmative and 我不打 (literally I don't play) for negative. There is no simple answering word for yes and no in Chinese. One needs to answer the yes-no question using the main verb in the question instead.

Responses to negative interrogative sentences can be problematic. In English, for example, the answer "No" to the question "Don't you have a passport?" confirms the negative, i.e. it means that the responder does not have a passport. However, in some other languages, such as Japanese, a negative answer to a negative question asserts the affirmative – in this case that the responder does have a passport. Conversely, in English "Yes" would assert the affirmative, while in some other languages it would confirm the negative.

Some languages have different words for "yes" when used to assert an affirmative in response to a negative question or statement; for example the French si, the German doch, and Danish, Swedish or Norwegian jo.

Ambiguity may also arise with choice questions.[7] A question like "Do you like tea or coffee?" can be interpreted as a choice question, to be answered with either "tea" or "coffee"; or it can be interpreted as a yes–no question, to be answered "yes (I do like tea or coffee)" or "no (I do not like tea or coffee)".

More information on these topics can be found in the articles Question, Yes and no, and Yes–no question.

Other Languages
العربية: استفهام
čeština: Interogativ
فارسی: وجه پرسشی
한국어: 의문문
Lingua Franca Nova: Demanda