How to use short negative answers in English?

negative, denying, negatory, dissentient, disavowing, contradictory, contrary, adverse

Hero Asked on 11/07/2014 in English Grammar.
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Use the word NOT to form negative sentences as well as short answers in English.

When giving a short answer, listen carefully to the question. Yes/No questions always start with auxiliaries (do, did, can, have, will etc.) that indicate tense, aspect and/or mood.

For example, when a question starts with DID, it tells you that it’s about the PAST and it’s SIMPLE aspect (so it refers to a single/repeated action, not a continuous one).

As it might sound a bit too technical, let’s look at some examples!


  • Do you like Britney Spears?
  • No, I don’t. (do not)


  • Did you see the giraffe cross the street?
  • No, I didn’t. (did not)


  • Can you do a hundred somersaults in a row?
  • No, I can’t. (cannot)


  • Could you talk to Brad Pitt at the premiere?
  • No, I couldn’t. (could not)


  • Have you proposed to Jane?
  • No, I haven’t. (have not)


  • Will you invite me to your wedding?
  • No, I won’t. (will not)


  • Should I buy her some flowers?
  • No, you shouldn’t. (should not)


  • Does she like flowers?
  • No, she doesn’t. (does not)


As you may see above, the auxiliary in the answer is always the same as the one in the question. Was there a DO in the question?

Answer with DO or DON’T. Was there a CAN in the question?

Answer with CAN or CAN’T/CANNOT.

When the verb BE is used in the question, use the right form in the answer:


  • Are you a supermodel?
  • No, I’m not. (am not)


  • Were you a good student?
  • No, I wasn’t. (was not)


Read more:
A Practical Guide to Using Diplomatic English in Business
Polite Expressions in English: Words, Phrases and Questions
Advanced English Grammar and Vocabulary Test with Real Answers

Promoter Answered on 12/07/2014.
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