Short Answers In English Grammar

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What are short answers?

Short answers are how we reply to yes/no questions and statements in English. Short answers are more polite than a simple yes or no.

Form affirmative short answers with yes + subject + auxiliary verb; form negative short answers with no + subject + negated auxiliary verb.

The auxiliary verb we use in short answers matches the tense used in the original question or statement.

Read on for a step-by-step guide to forming short answers in English, then practise in the interactive exercises.


—Are you a farmer?

Yes, I am.

—Do you have a lot of animals?

Yes, I do.

—Your rabbit is really cute.

Yes, she is.

—Does your chicken lay eggs?

No, he doesn’t.

—Can I visit your farm?

Yes, you can!

Why does English use short answers?

We use short answers in English to sound more polite.

Just yes or no can sound rude. Repeating the whole sentence sounds strange. Short answers are a perfect middle ground.


—Are you a farmer? —Yes.
—Are you a farmer? —Yes, I am a farmer.
—Are you a farmer? —Yes, I am.
neutral and natural!

How to form short answers step by step

Short answers follow the structure yes/no + subject + auxiliary verb.

The auxiliary verb matches the tense used in the original question or statement.

To form short answers, follow these three steps:

  • Step 1: decide if your short answer is affirmative or negative
  • Step 2: decide which subject pronoun you need
  • Step 3: identify the auxiliary verb and negate it if needed

Let’s take a look at those steps in practice:

Example 1

Question: Does your chicken lay eggs? Notes
Step 1: yes or no? No, … comma after no
Step 2: add the pronoun No, he … male chicken → he
Step 3: add the auxiliary No, he doesn’t. doesdoesn’t

Let’s try another example with a different verb.

Example 2

In this example, there is no question auxiliary; only the main verb be (are). In such questions, we use a form of be in the short answer.

Question: Are you a farmer? Notes
Step 1: yes or no? Yes, … comma after yes
Step 2: add the pronoun Yes, I … youI
Step 3: add the form of be Yes, I am. aream


Note: we do not use contractions (short forms) in affirmative short answers.

—Is he a farmer?
—Yes, he is.
not: Yes, he’s.

Short answers with have got

There are two ways to say have in the simple present: have and have got.

For short answers with have, use the auxiliaries do(n’t)/does(n’t) (as is standard with simple present questions).

—Do you have a lot of animals?
—Yes, I do.

For short answers with have got, use the auxiliaries have(n’t)/has(n’t).

—Have you got a lot of animals?
—Yes, I have.

Learn more about the difference between have and have got in English grammar.

Short answers and statements

As well as responding to questions, we can also use short answers to agree or disagree with statements.

—Your rabbit is really cute.
—Yes, he is. / No, he isn’t.

When a statement doesn’t contain an auxiliary or a modal verb, this usually means that we use a form of the verb do in the short answer.

—The farm animals love visitors.
—Yes, they do.
simple present (love) = auxiliary verb do
—The kids had a great time at the farm.
—Yes, they did!
simple past (had) = auxiliary verb did


Sometimes we omit the yes/no part of a short answer, especially if we’re responding to a statement.

—The pigs are so happy on the farm.
They are!

We can even follow these short answers with a question tag.

—The pigs are so happy on the farm.
—They are, aren’t they?