seldom/rarely

friendsseason11

Member
Japanese
Hi, everyone. I need your help!

My question is; if someone asks me "Does he rarely visit you?", then which way should I say to him, grammatically, in the case where he actually visits me oftentimes? Should I say "Yes, he does."? Or "No, he doesn't."?

My point is, when I'm asked some question with words like seldom/rarely, which have apparently negative meaning, how should I take the question; as a negative sentence? Or as a positive sentence?

The way to ask "Does he rarely visit you?" itself may sound really odd to you, but I'm just curious about grammatical side.

Could you explain to me? By the way, I searched and checked if 'seldom/rarely sort of question' is already asked here. But I can't find it. If there's one already, sorry in advance! Yeah I can be sorry in advance!
 
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  • e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    My response to the question Does he rarely visit you? would be to say What do you mean?

    The only way of asking the question with rarely I can think of is Is it true that he rarely visits you? Then it's clear whether you should say yes or no.
     

    friendsseason11

    Member
    Japanese
    My response to the question Does he rarely visit you? would be to say What do you mean?

    The only way of asking the question with rarely I can think of is Is it true that he rarely visits you? Then it's clear whether you should say yes or no.
    Um.. So you mean this way of asking Does he rarely visit you? is totally nonsensical?
    I understand your way of asking and the way of answering is quite natural, but isn't there any situation where the way of asking I wrote above fits in? Possibly?
    If there could be any chance for the way of asking (Does he rarely visit you?) to happen, then I still want to know how I should respond with yes/ no.

    My point of this question is quite simple; If I'm asked some question with words like seldom/rarely, which may not be treated as negative word (phrase) but clearly have a negative meaning, should I take the question as a negative question or a positive question? This is my point.

    If "Does he rarely visit you?" is nonsensical, could you please make up a question with words like seldom/rarely/hardly/scarcely and answer my question? I hope my English does make sense to English speaking people.:(
     
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    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    The problem for me is twofold:


    1. The position of the adverb is irregular

    (a) Does he rarely visit you?
    (b) Does he visit you infrequently?
    (c) Does he visit you on few occasions?
    (d) Does he visit you rarely?

    (b, c, and d) suffer less from ambiguity (but do not totally lack it) as visiting is assumed.

    2. The (a) question has two points​
    (i) Does he visit you?
    (ii) Are the visits rare?

    Both are answerable with Yes or No, thus giving 2 answers (Yes, yes/No, no) that are valid and two (Yes, no/No, yes) that cannot be expressed. You are requiring one question to do too much work.

    This why e2efour said “My response to the question Does he rarely visit you? would be to say What do you mean?”

    You could say, “Are his visits rare?” but you are more likely to say, “How often does he visit you?” This can then range from “Not at all.” To “Every hour.”
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    You could say Does he visit you rarely, sometimes or often? But you are not likely to come across this question except in a survey.
    The natural way of asking it in speech is How often does he visit you?, as PaulQ says, or Does he visit you often?

    To summarise:
    Does he visit you rarely?:cross:
    Does he visit you sometimes?:tick:
    Does he visit you often?:tick:

     

    friendsseason11

    Member
    Japanese
    The problem for me is twofold:


    1. The position of the adverb is irregular

    (a) Does he rarely visit you?
    (b) Does he visit you infrequently?
    (c) Does he visit you on few occasions?
    (d) Does he visit you rarely?

    (b, c, and d) suffer less from ambiguity (but do not totally lack it) as visiting is assumed.
    2. The (a) question has two points​
    (i) Does he visit you?
    (ii) Are the visits rare?

    Both are answerable with Yes or No, thus giving 2 answers (Yes, yes/No, no) that are valid and two (Yes, no/No, yes) that cannot be expressed. You are requiring one question to do too much work.

    This why e2efour said “My response to the question Does he rarely visit you? would be to say What do you mean?”

    You could say, “Are his visits rare?” but you are more likely to say, “How often does he visit you?” This can then range from “Not at all.” To “Every hour.”
    OHHHHHH!! NOW I GET IT!!:eek:

    So that is what e2efour's point!:eek: I have absolutely no idea there is such ambiguity in the question "Does he rarely visit you?"
    What was I asking! And how kind of you to give me such a detailed explanation!:eek: Yes, now I'm perfectly clear!:eek:

    Sorry for too much:eek::eek::eek:, but THANK YOU VERY MUCH, PaulQ!! I tremendously appreciate it!! OHHHHHHHH!!:eek:
     

    friendsseason11

    Member
    Japanese
    You could say Does he visit you rarely, sometimes or often? But you are not likely to come across this question except in a survey.
    The natural way of asking it in speech is How often does he visit you?, as PaulQ says, or Does he visit you often?

    To summarise:
    Does he visit you rarely?:cross:
    Does he visit you sometimes?:tick:
    Does he visit you often?:tick:

    Yes! Now I get your point and understand what you mean and what you meant in the first comment!:D
    As I said in my reply to PaulQ, I didn't know there is such ambiguity in that question, and NO IDEA how various assumption (connotation?) could be set according to the ways of asking.:eek:

    Oh English... How deep it is.:eek: That's what I am thinking. I really really appreciate it. Thank you very much for your kindness.
     

    friendsseason11

    Member
    Japanese
    My point, however, was not that I found your question ambiguous. I was saying that questions are hardly ever used with words like rarely and seldom.
    Yes, I was sensing that. I didn't intend to ask this question for some practicality. I just started wondering and couldn't stop wondering. Just for my curiosity.

    But OH MY!:eek: My question is far more meaningless than I expected!! LOL!:D
     
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