Answering Do/Does questions with proper nouns

sb70012

Senior Member
Azerbaijani/Persian
Does Jessica live in New York?
Yes, she does.
Yes, Jessica does.

or

Does Alex smoke a lot?
Yes, he does.
Yes, Alex does.

Hello,
Are the blue responses also OK if we use proper nouns?

Thank you.
 
  • coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    Not really. These replies sound stilted.

    "Yes, Jessica does live in New York"
    and
    "Yes, Alex does smoke a lot"

    sound more natural.

    But not just the proper noun in place of the pronoun. Your alternative sentences are not ungrammatical, but they are very unnatural.
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    Thank you but what if the name is strange (Chines, or Japanese, or a country) that you don't know whether it's a boy or girl. Shouldn't we use like my blue version that time?
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    That's an interesting problem.:) Since that probably doesn't happen very often, I suggest simply answering the question with "Yes." Your version sounds too weird. Especially since you will probably mispronounce the name, as you are a foreigner who doesn't know the gender of the name. I'd go with "Yes" or "No" on the occasions you don't know the gender. Or go with the complete sentences I mentioned above as better alternatives.
     

    weglang

    Member
    Native Mandarin Chinese
    Thank you but what if the name is strange (Chines, or Japanese, or a country) that you don't know whether it's a boy or girl. Shouldn't we use like my blue version that time?
    When you ask 'does a Chinese speak English?', you actually refer to a folk in general.
    Thus the answer could be 'Yes, they mostly do.'
    You can see, we use a single Chinese in the question, and they in the answer.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Well, the responses seem to indicate that the second person knows something about the person asked about (where they live and their smoking habits); it would be strange in this context if the gender was unknown!
     

    coiffe

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English
    Weglang, you bring up an interesting point, but "a Chinese" is not grammatical. You'd have to say "a Chinese person."
     

    weglang

    Member
    Native Mandarin Chinese
    Thank you but what if the name is strange (Chines, or Japanese, or a country) that you don't know whether it's a boy or girl. Shouldn't we use like my blue version that time?
    Pardon me LOL, I kind of misunderstood your question in my last response.
    If you don't know the gender, how could you possibly answer the question?
    You may answer: Excuse me, who's Abcdefqj? LOL
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    In the context where you really know the answer to the question and don't know the person's gender, for example, if you have to read a paragraph that goes like this and answer questions afterward:

    "The ragweed flowers make Li sneeze. Every spring when they bloom, Li's allergies bloom too. Li is also allergic to certain tree pollen."

    Q: Is Li allergic to ragweed pollen?

    In this case, you might not know Li's gender or pronouns. So typically, in English, the natural answer would be:

    "Yes, they are." ( Singular they - Wikipedia Gender neutral pronouns: If some person ... lost <?> phone? Its! Historic use of singular their. )

    The use of "they" as a pronoun for a singular referent with unknown gender is widespread and long attested. Though it will annoy some people in formal writing, mostly they won't even notice it in speech, it is so natural and commonplace.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    In Truffula's example, we might use the singular they (they are). We might even use he or she (he or she is). But we still would not repeat the name. (And for this reason, I find Truffula's sentences a little strange with the repeated Lis.)
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Often those constructed logic problems use sentence structure no one would actually ever say. It's a formality level.

    When writing is especially formal, names are sometimes repeated more often. Another thing that is often done is the use of epithets.

    Formal example (epithet in blue):
    "Natkretep suggests my example sentences are strange because of the number of times I repeated the subject's name. The Singaporean moderator makes a good point."

    Less formal version:

    "Natkretep says my sentences about Li are a little strange because I kept repeating Li's name instead of using a pronoun. He has a point."
     
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