Short Answers In English Grammar

Introduction

We use short answers in English grammar to respond to yes/no questions, or to agree with a statement. Positive short answers are formed with yes + subject + auxiliary verb, and negative answers with no + subject + negated auxiliary verb.

Learn the rules for answering yes/no questions in English with Lingolia and practise using short answers in the exercises.

Example

  • Have you got a girlfriend?
  • Yes, I have.
  • Is she nice?
  • Yes, she is.
  • Do you see each other very often?
  • No, we don’t.
  • Does she live in the same town as you?
  • No, she doesn’t.
  • Can I meet her one day?
  • Yes, you can.
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Usage

Answering an yes/no question with just the word yes or no can sound rude. On the other hand, answering a yes/no question with a full sentence is repetive and can sound unnatural. In the English language, we use short answers to respond to yes/no questions in a neutral and natural manner.

Example:
Have you got a girlfriend? – Yes, I have.
Have you got a girlfriend? – Yes.

Sounds rude, or like the person does not want to answer the question.

Have you got a girlfriend? – Yes I have got a girlfriend.

Sounds repetitive and unnatural.

We can also use short answers to agree or disagree with statements.

Example:
My girlfriend is beautifull. – Yes, she is./No, she isn’t.

Formation of Short Answers in English Grammar

To form short answers, we use the formula: yes/no + subject + auxiliary verb. We take the auxiliary verb from the question or statement.

Example:
Is she nice? – Yes, she is. (not: Yes, she’s.)

Contractions in positive short answers are not possible.

Does she live in the same town as you? – No, she doesn’t.

It’s common to use contractions in negative short answers.

If there is no auxiliary verb, and the main verb is not be or a modal verb, we use do in the short answer.

Example:
They love cates. – Yes, they do./No, they don’t.

Changing the Pronouns

Since short answers respond to questions, we sometimes have to change the pronoun in the short answer. This happens with the pronouns I, you, and we.

Example:
Can I meet her one day? – Yes, you can.

The person asking uses the I form, so the conversation partner has to use the you form when he or she replies.

When the person asking uses the pronoun you, the person answering has to change it to either I or we, depending on the context.

Example:
Have you got a girlfriend? – Yes, I have.
Do you see each other very often? – No, we don’t.

If the question begins with “Are you …”, then the short answer needs to replace are with am (if the question is referring to only one person).

Example:
Are you in love? – Yes, I am./Yes, we are.