c. Yes, she didn't. d. No, she did.

sitifan

Senior Member
Hokkien & Mandarin Chinese
(7) Didn't Sue steal the cookies?
a. Yes, she did.
b. No, she didn't.
c. *Yes, she didn't.
d. *No, she did.
(9) Did Sue not steal the cookies?
a. Yes, she did.
b. No, she didn't.
c. Yes, she didn't.
d. No, she did.
批踢踢實業坊
According to the above link, in (7) only a and b are correct and in (8) a, b, c, and d are all correct.
Do native speakers agree with what is taught in the link?
 
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  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    According to the above link, in (7), only a and b are correct
    That's right.
    in (8) a, b, c, and d are all correct.
    Do native speakers agree with what is taught in the link?
    It is hard to judge the answers because the question is so hard to understand. This does not necessarily mean that it is wrong, just that it needs some context to have exactly that wording. However, I struggle to see why, even if the question is possible, it should ever be answered with (c) or (d).
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    (7) Didn't Sue steal the cookies?
    This means "Isn't it true that Sue stole the cookies?"
    This sentence states that Sue did steal the cookies, and asks you to confirm it (agree) or deny it (disagree).
    So a "yes" reply means "I agree: Sue did steal the cookies",
    and a "no" reply means "I disagree: Sue did not steal the cookies".

    (9) Did Sue not steal the cookies?
    In AE, this sentence is not idiomatic. it is ambiguous. It can mean either (a) or (b):
    (9a) It is true that Sue did not steal the cookies. Do you agree?
    (9b) It is true that Sue did steal the cookies. Do you agree?

    Since the sentence has 2 correct (and opposite) meanings, any "Yes/No" answer is wrong.
     

    Tegs

    Mód ar líne
    English (Ireland)
    (9) Did Sue not steal the cookies?
    a. Yes, she did.
    b. No, she didn't.
    This question isn't odd in Hiberno English. The person asking the question is pretty sure Sue stole the cookies but wants confirmation from someone else. The only correct answers in Hiberno English are A and B. C and D are incorrect.

    The structure "did X not do Y?" would be used in a context like this:
    Person A: Do you fancy a biscuit with your tea?
    Person B: Hold on, did Sue not eat all the biscuits earlier?
    Person A: Ugh, I forgot, yes, she did.
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    There is distinction in the literature between "truth-based" answers and "polarity-based" answers to Yes and No questions framed in the negative. Simply put, "truth-based" means that the answer either confirms or refutes the truth of the negative proposition, while "polarity-based" means that the answer agrees or disagrees with the polarity (negative or positive) of the proposition.

    There are languages which are clearly either truth-based or polarity-based. English accepts both. Generally speaking, n't-questions are polarity-based:

    Didn't Sue steal the cookies?
    Yes, (I affirm that) Sue stole the cookies
    No, Sue did not steal the cookies


    and not-questions are truth-based:

    Did Sue not steal the cookies?
    Yes, Sue did not steal the cookies = Yes, it is true that Sue did not steal the cookies
    No, Sue did not steal the cookies = No, it is not true that Sue did not steal the cookies


    In everyday speech, where we commonly use contractions, the default form is n't questions (polarity-based), meaning that the yes/no answer is pretty straight forward. And in everyday speech, we tend to avoid not-questions (truth-based) because they kinda become counterintuitive. (I mean, "No, it is not true that Sue did not steal the cookies" in logic means "Sue stole the cookies.") But there may well be contextual reasons where not-questions make sense, though it's hard to see that in an isolated sentence. One context where I would expect to see not-questions is in a legal context, as in a court of law, during cross-examination, for example.

    That's the general idea, but it's a complex topic.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    For me, 9c and 9d are not feasible in the real world.

    Did Sue not steal the cookies? suggests that the speaker thinks she did steal them. I can't read it as suggesting that she did not.

    For me it's very straightforward:
    If she did, then "Yes, she did".
    If she didn't, then "No, she did not".

    If it's a rhetorical question, my answers would be the same.
     
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