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Short answer

( Free Online English Grammar Lessons )

Read time : 3 minutes

Form : ( Yes, pronoun + auxiliary verb / No, pronoun + auxiliary verb + not )

In English, we don't use only yes or no to answer a question. This is not considered polite. We use short answers. Short answers are often grammatically incomplete because we do not usually repeat the words that have just been said. 

Examples short answers :

  • "Can you speak English?" "Yes, I can."
  • "Is he coming with us?" "Yes, he is."
  • "Is she interested in the offer?" "No, she isn't."
  • "Is it raining?" "Yes, it is."
  • "Has it stopped raining?" "No, it hasn't."
  • "Have you finished the job?" "Yes, I have."
  • "Do you want this?" "No, I don't."
  • "Will you come with me?" "Yes, I will."
  • "Will she help us?" "No, she won't."
  • "Did you phone him yesterday?" "Yes, I did."
  • "Are you married?" "Yes, I am."
  • "Do you have children?" "Yes, I do."
  • "Is she running a temperature?" "Yes, she is."
  • "Do you like cricket?" "No, I don't."
  • "Do you have a hobby?" "Yes, I do."
  • "Do you know how to use a computer?" "Yes, I do."
  • "Do you want to talk to the manager?" "Yes, I do."
  • "Are you tired?" "No, I'm not."
  • "May I come in, Sir?" "Yes, you may."
  • "Can I go now?" "No, you can't."
  • "Am I supposed to wait?" "No, you aren't."
  • "Were you not listening?" "No, I wasn't."

Sometimes a statement about one person also applies to another person. When this is the case, you can use a short answer with 'so' for positive statements, and with 'neither' or 'nor' for negative statements using the same verb that was used in the statement.

You use 'so,' 'neither,' or 'nor' with an auxiliary, modal, or the main verb 'be.' The verb comes before the subject.

  • "You were different then." "So were you."
  • "I don't normally drink at lunch." "Neither do I."
  • "I can't do it." "Nor can I."

You can use 'not either' instead of 'neither,' in which case the verb comes after the subject.

  • "He doesn't understand." "We don't either."

You often use 'so' in short answers after verbs such as 'think,' 'hope,' 'expect,' 'imagine,' and 'suppose,' when you think that the answer to the question is 'yes.'

  • "You'll be home at six?" "I hope so."
  • "So it was worth doing?" "I suppose so."

You use 'I'm afraid so' when you are sorry that the answer is 'yes.'

  • "Is it raining?" "I'm afraid so."

With 'suppose,' 'think,' 'imagine,' or 'expect' in short answers, you also form negatives with 'so.'

  • "Will I see you again?" "I don't suppose so."
  • "Is Barry Knight a golfer?" "No, I don't think so."

However, you say 'I hope not' and 'I'm afraid not.'

  • "It isn't empty, is it?" "I hope not."


Be going to
Be going to passive
Be used to / Get used to
Comparative
Defining relative clause
Echo tag
Expression
First conditional
Future
Future continuous
Future perfect continuous
Future perfect passive
Future perfect simple
Future simple passive
Greeting
Have/Get something done
Imperative
Implied conditional
Indirect question
Infinitive of purpose
Interjection
Mixed conditional
Modal
Modal passive
Non-defining relative clause
Other
Past continuous
Past continuous passive
Past perfect continuous
Past perfect passive
Past perfect simple
Past simple
Past simple passive
Polite request / offer / suggestion
Present continuous
Present continuous passive
Present perfect continuous
Present perfect passive
Present perfect simple
Present simple
Present simple passive
Question tag
Reduced relative clause
Reported speech imperative
Reported speech question
Reported speech request
Reported speech statement
Second conditional
Short answer
Superlative
Third conditional
Used to / would (past habit)
Was/were going to
Was/were supposed to
Wish
Would rather
Zero conditional