A:you weren't home. B:Yes OR No? I was out.

patates_frites

Senior Member
Japanese, English - US
A sample dialogue:

A: I called you yesterday but you weren't home.
B: Yes/No, I was elsewhere (at John's house, or anywhere else than home).

I think the natural response here is to say,
"YES (you're right), I was elsewhere. "

But I'm also told,
"NO (I wasn't home), I was elsewhere."
is equally natural.

I don't know whether my opinion is just one of several valid options or actually the better choice of the two. I'd appreciate second opinions.
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi patates_frites

    I'd always use "no" in this situation.

    I'm sure there are previous threads: I'll see if I can find them,
     

    daviesri

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Maybe this is an AE vs AB thing or I am just odd. For me, If I say yes, I am agreeing with your comment that I was out. If I say no, I am disagreeing with your comment and saying that I was home.
     

    patates_frites

    Senior Member
    Japanese, English - US
    Maybe this is an AE vs AB thing or I am just odd. For me, If I say yes, I am agreeing with your comment that I was out. If I say no, I am disagreeing with your comment and saying that I was home.

    I feel the same way. Perhaps this is AE vs BE. I don't know.
    I feel that NO is not a natural response, in a conversation, for the reason quoted above.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    This is all governed by convention. It is not a matter of natural or not natural. In this scenario, "Yes" is used for contradiction, not for agreement:

    - You weren't at home yesterday.
    - Yes I was!
    (The second speaker is telling the first that he is mistaken.)
     

    patates_frites

    Senior Member
    Japanese, English - US
    This is all governed by convention. It is not a matter of natural or not natural. In this scenario, "Yes" is used for contradiction, not for agreement:

    - You weren't at home yesterday.
    - Yes I was!
    (The second speaker is telling the first that he is mistaken.)
    The point is that, this person follows up by saying, "I was out."

    The Yes and No may imply this:
    "Yes, you're right, I was out"
    OR
    "No, I wasn't home, I was out"
    The latter sounds perhaps redundant to me.
     

    patates_frites

    Senior Member
    Japanese, English - US
    I haven't yet found any previous English Only threads. But I have found this All Languages thread, which you may find interesting:)
    Thanks :)

    If "but you weren't home" was a question "but you weren't home?"

    I'd say "No, I was out". Simple.

    But it's not a question. The person already affirms it.
    Thus, I find it natural to skip, "No, I wasn't" but to say "Yes, you're right", and precise where I was.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The point is that, this person follows up by saying, "I was out."

    The Yes and No may imply this:
    "Yes, you're right, I was out"
    OR
    "No, I wasn't home, I was out"
    The latter sounds perhaps redundant to me.
    If you say to me, "You weren't at home yesterday" and this is true and I respond honestly, I can say

    "No, I wasn't"; or
    "No. I was out"; or
    "That's right"; or
    "No, that's right".

    I might use any of these answers.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    If "but you weren't home" was a question "but you weren't home?"

    I'd say "No, I was out". Simple.

    But it's not a question. The person already affirms it.
    Thus, I find it natural to skip, "No, I wasn't" but to say "Yes, you're right", and precise where I was.
    Whereas I (as I said) would find "No, I wasn't" the natural response in both situations:)
     

    patates_frites

    Senior Member
    Japanese, English - US
    My conclusion at this point is that
    >Yes/yeah, you're/that's right, I was out.
    >No, I wasn't (home), I was out.
    are both valid options.
    Thanks all.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I'm sorry, I don't think they are equally valid for English - at least the kind of English I'm familiar with. I would only use No. I'm aware this is difference in Chinese, Japanese and Korean. The yes and no is to emphasise what the speaker says, rather than to show agreement or disagreement.
     

    Spanglish Language

    New Member
    English - British
    Agreed. I cannot think of any context in which you'd use 'Yes' instead of no. Yes is always the contradiction.

    "You weren't in"
    "No i wasnt, I was elsewhere" or "Yes I was. I'd been at home all day".

    You'd never say "Yes I wasn't". Ever. Some other affirmatives e.g. Correct, True etc make sense. But easier just to say "no".
     

    daviesri

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I guess that I am the odd man out. But, if someone said to me:
    "I called you yesterday but you weren't home."
    I would respond:
    "Yes, I was over at my moms house."
    To say 'No' would sound like I am disagreeing with his comment that I was not home which would imply that I was home.

    Whether my version is right or wrong I have always been understood. I think it probably has something to do with the inflection used on yes or no.
     

    Spanglish Language

    New Member
    English - British
    I guess, as someone said, if its a statement that you werent home (rather than a question), that would make a difference. The example you gave doesnt sound odd. I reckon you could still use "no", even in that situation.
     

    patates_frites

    Senior Member
    Japanese, English - US
    I'm sorry, I don't think they are equally valid for English - at least the kind of English I'm familiar with. I would only use No. I'm aware this is difference in Chinese, Japanese and Korean. The yes and no is to emphasise what the speaker says, rather than to show agreement or disagreement.
    I have no detailed explanation to offer alas, but I still feel that it is similarly natural to say:
    No (I wasn't home), I was out.
    OR
    Yes or Yeah (that's right), I was out.

    Again, if it was "but you weren't home?"
    I'd only go with "No, I was out".

    This is one of those situations where I get more confused by thinking too much about it. I think in many cases I'd also just say "No". But perhaps I'm confused by envisioning too many circumstances... Or perhaps they're maybe not equally valid but both okay enough.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    For me, the natural response - it is a response, not a reply to a question - is negative, no. The negative response parallels the negative statement and signals agreement.

    Change the first sentence to be a question, for example, to end with "... you weren't at home, were you?"
    and the reply is "Yes..." (I was at home), or "No..." (I wasn't at home).
     

    patates_frites

    Senior Member
    Japanese, English - US
    I guess that I am the odd man out. But, if someone said to me:
    "I called you yesterday but you weren't home."
    I would respond:
    "Yes, I was over at my moms house."
    To say 'No' would sound like I am disagreeing with his comment that I was not home which would imply that I was home.

    Whether my version is right or wrong I have always been understood. I think it probably has something to do with the inflection used on yes or no.
    We seem to be the odd balls. It may indeed be a matter of inflection. I'd perhaps be more comfortable to say "Yeah" than "Yes", to convey a greater sense of agreement.

    I may be wrong, or unconventional, at least here at the word reference, but thanks to you I am at least not "crazy" by cause of being completely alone.
     

    patates_frites

    Senior Member
    Japanese, English - US
    For me, the natural response - it is a response, not a reply to a question - is negative, no. The negative response parallels the negative statement and signals agreement.

    Change the first sentence to be a question, for example, to end with "... you weren't at home, were you?"
    and the reply is "Yes..." (I was at home), or "No..." (I wasn't at home).

    Well, an important factor is that it's not a question.

    "A" affirms you were not at home, and it's not a grave charge, about which I don't feel the necessity to repeat by saying "No, I wasn't".

    When I read:
    "but you were not home."
    it implies:
    "but you were out/elsewhere."

    So I respond:
    "Yeah, I was out/at John's house."

    What me and daviesri see primarily is perhaps this implied sentence.
     

    George French

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    The simple yes/no answer can be, and often is:
    • missunderstood by the listener :warning: and
    • incorrectly used by the speaker. :warning:
    Try to avoid this. Just say "That's right, I was not at home."
    GF..

    :D
     

    patates_frites

    Senior Member
    Japanese, English - US
    The simple yes/no answer can be, and often is:
    • missunderstood by the listener :warning: and
    • incorrectly used by the speaker. :warning:
    Try to avoid this. Just say "That's right, I was not at home."
    GF..

    :D
    Good point, or good re-formulation of a point already alluded to. I guess the Yes/No portion of the response here is dependent on how we see the affirmation, and can swing either ways.

    Right/wrong, may be a clearer response.
    In this conversation, I'm seeing Yes/No as Right/Wrong.
     

    daviesri

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I see the comment as a statement and that by saying yes, I am affirming that the caller is correct in that I was not home. It does not seem to me that agreeing with the person is incorrect just becasue it is not presented in question form.

    I called you yesterday but you weren't home.
    Yes, I was at the store. (Agreeing that yes, I was not home and that I was at the store).
     

    Gwan

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    Kiwis are notorious for answering questions like these with "yeah, nah (I was out)" - as others have said, the yes affirms what the person has said and the no matches with the negation in the sentence. I would also commonly respond to questions such as "did you enjoy the concert last night" with, "yeah, no, it was alright", but I wouldn't suggest this as a model to follow :D
     

    patates_frites

    Senior Member
    Japanese, English - US
    Kiwis are notorious for answering questions like these with "yeah, nah (I was out)" - as others have said, the yes affirms what the person has said and the no matches with the negation in the sentence. I would also commonly respond to questions such as "did you enjoy the concert last night" with, "yeah, no, it was alright", but I wouldn't suggest this as a model to follow :D
    That may be similar to the Japanese tendency to say "yes" as to say "I'm listening". Or I can imagine some British-style snobby character a la Monty Python also saying "Yes, well, no, I didn't like it." where "Yes" is used similarly to "well", just to set up the answer. I'll definitely watch out for the kiwi "yes, no" response!
     
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