Yes, I have. No, I haven't. [ eaten the cake ]

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IlyaTretyakov

Senior Member
Russian
Yesterday my wife bought a cake. Today, I ate half of it and left the other half for her.

She comes home and asks me,
  • "Have you eaten the cake that I bought yesterday?"
which should I answer?
  1. "Yes, I have (eaten it), but I've left half of it for you."
  2. "No, I haven't (eaten it). I've eaten only the half of it."
 
  • IlyaTretyakov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I would probably answer this way: I have eaten half of it/some of it. I don't see any advantage in including yes or no in the answer.
    I'd like to understand exactly about 'yes, I have' and 'no, I haven't' in this situation, which of the two is grammatically correct, and which is incorrect.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I'd like to understand exactly about 'yes, I have' and 'no, I haven't' in this situation, which of the two is grammatically correct, and which is incorrect.
    I don't think that grammar has much to do with whether you choose to begin the answer with yes or no. If you have eaten half of the cake, you can arbitrarily claim that you have eaten the cake. After all, you ate half of it. You can also arbitrarily claim that you have not eaten the cake. After all, you did not eat half of it.
     

    Peter Thompson

    Senior Member
    Malaysian
    I'd like to understand exactly about 'yes, I have' and 'no, I haven't' in this situation, which of the two is grammatically correct, and which is incorrect.
    In my opinion. There are 2 options to convey this idea :
    1. I have eaten the half of it, you can eat the rest of it if you like
    2. Yes, But I haven't eaten it all, you can eat the rest of it If you like

    The present perfect tells us that something has come to completion. If you were to tell the person asking that there were still some pieces of the cake, you would need to say it clearly like in either of the sentences I've given above.
    If you said "Yes I have" and you stop there, people would normally assume that there were no pieces of the cake left.
    Equally , If you said "No, I haven't" and you stop there, people would normally assume that no pieces of the cake had already been eaten.

    In short, if you wanted to use the present perfect in this case, you would have to say it clearly.
     

    IlyaTretyakov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I don't think that grammar has much to do with whether you choose to begin the answer with yes or no. If you have eaten half of the cake, you can arbitrarily claim that you have eaten the cake. After all, you ate half of it. You can also arbitrarily claim that you have not eaten the cake. After all, you did not eat half of it.
    I can't understand it at all. My brain just refuses to.
    When somebody asks you, "Did you kill him?" You can say either "Yes, I did" or "No, I didn't" depending on what is the truth and whether you want that person to know the truth.

    But the reality doesn't change: you either killed him or you didn't, there are only two possible outcome.
     

    IlyaTretyakov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    In short, if you wanted to use the present perfect in this case, you would have to say it clearly.
    The point is not in the aspect (past simple/present perfect), they're the same in this context, but the point is in the verb 'to eat' itself.

    However, thank you for your reply.
     

    IlyaTretyakov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Are you asking the difference between :
    1. I have eaten
    2. I ate
    Is this what you're asking?
    No. I've already said
    The point is not in the aspect (past simple/present perfect), they're the same in this context, but the point is in the verb 'to eat' itself.
    I'm asking about the verb 'to eat' and:
    I'd like to understand exactly about 'yes, I have' and 'no, I haven't' in this situation, which of the two is grammatically correct, and which is incorrect.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I can't understand it at all. My brain just refuses to.
    When somebody asks you, "Did you kill him?" You can say either "Yes, I did" or "No, I didn't" depending on what is the truth and whether you want that person to know the truth.
    You can't kill half of him. He is either alive or dead. But you can eat half of a cake. That is why I don't think that yes or no are really meaningful or appropriate in your answer to your wife's question.

    Instead, I regard this thread as a strange language experiment. If you insist on including yes or no in your answer, it doesn't really matter which one you choose. Your choice is a matter of perspective. The glass is half empty or it is half full.
     

    IlyaTretyakov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Sometimes reality is more complicated than that: it could have been involuntary manslaughter, a paid hit etc. That's why we have other words than 'yes' or 'no' to express what actually happened. The same applies to your cake example.
    That's what people say when they want to hide something :D

    Actually, there are only two possible outcome: either you did, or you didn't.
     

    IlyaTretyakov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Instead, I regard this thread as a strange language experiment. If you insist on including yes or no in your answer, it doesn't really matter which one you choose. Your choice is a matter of perspective. The glass is half empty or it is half full.
    Do you really think it's possible and correct to say:
    A: Did you eat the cake that I bought yesterday?
    B: No, I didn't. I only ate half of it.
    ?
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Do you really think it's possible and correct to say:
    Wife: Did you eat the cake that I bought yesterday?
    Me: No, I didn't. I only ate half of it.
    It makes just as much sense as saying Yes, I did. I ate half of it. I'm not sure why you are trying to reduce your answer to yes or no. Perhaps you find it amusing to do so.

    I ate half of it is a perfectly sensible answer to the question. So is I ate some of it. Once again, I don't see any advantage in stuffing yes or no into the reply.
     

    IlyaTretyakov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    It makes just as much sense as saying Yes, I did. I ate half of it. I'm not sure why you are trying to reduce your answer to yes or no. Perhaps you find it amusing to do so.

    I ate half of it is a perfectly sensible answer to the question. So is I ate some of it. Once again, I don't see any advantage in stuffing yes or no into the reply.
    'Yes, I did' or 'No, I didn't' is the main point of this thread.

    This is an opportunity to check whether the language we speak is capable of adequately looking at reality and accurately describing it.

    I don't think anybody would be sane if he were asked "Did you kill him?" and didn't know what was the correct answer (even though he wanted to tell the truth). Strange situation? Same applies to the situation with the cake for me.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    I'd like to understand exactly about 'yes, I have' and 'no, I haven't' in this situation, which of the two is grammatically correct, and which is incorrect.
    Both answers are incorrect. The question was:
    Have you eaten the cake that I bought yesterday?
    This means "have you eaten the entire cake". No, you haven't. But if you reply "no", that will be understood to mean "I have not eaten any of the cake", which is false.

    But when we don't have this clarification what does English grammar consider as correct?
    English grammar does not consider anything "correct". Why should it?
     
    If you insist on having a "yes" or "no" in the response, then "yes" makes more sense, but it must be clarified with "some of it" or "half of it" because an unadorned "yes, I did" means that you ate the entire cake.

    -Did you eat the cake I bought yesterday? [Much more likely than "have you eaten", at least in AE]
    -Yes, some of it.

    If you really want to see a response with "no", it would likely be:

    -No, not all of it.

    A person is either dead or not dead (unless you're writing horror fiction), but a cake is not either eaten or not eaten. It can be half eaten, which is why the original question is not a yes-or-no question.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    Not being able to answer 'yes' or 'no' to this question looks like you give the computer a task to solve and it freezes, because it has never encountered anything like that.
    No. Computers can't speak English. We use programming languages (like C++, python, etc.). In those languages you cannot ask this question. Computer languages have no ambiguity between "all of" and "some of". It can't happen.

    Computers cannot encounter things they don't know how to do. Programming languages like C++ are "compiled" (converted into simple computer actions) before they are run on a computer. The computer only sees a few simple operations like "add, load, store, substract". Everything else is in the mind of the human program-writer, not in the computer.

    After a long time of overcoming this challenge, the poor computer decides to choose the answer at random.
    No, no, no...and no. Computers cannot "decide" anything. Computers cannot think. Computers can only run programs that humans write. A computer can only do something "at random" if the programmer tells it to use a "random number generator" to choose between several (human-designed) actions -- and then the computer can only do one of the chosen actions.
     

    IlyaTretyakov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    English grammar does not consider anything "correct". Why should it?
    Hmm.. Maybe, because making sense is a good thing? :)
    Computers cannot think.
    Fine. Change 'computer' to AI.

    If you insist on having a "yes" or "no" in the response, then "yes" makes more sense, but it must be clarified with "some of it" or "half of it" because an unadorned "yes, I did" means that you ate the entire cake.

    -Did you eat the cake I bought yesterday?
    -Yes, some of it.
    This makes sense even though some people try to insist it doesn't. Thank you, a little edgy.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    Change 'computer' to AI.
    I have heard more lies and fictional claims about AI than any other branch of computing. I have been hearing those AI lies since the 1960s. It is nothing new. It's how AI projects get funding.

    Some AI experts re-define "think" as something that computers can do. Then they claim that AI programs think. Of course that is making all sorts of (unprovable) assumptions about what humans do when they "think".

    Bottom line: a human programmer programmed every tiniest detail of an "AI thinking program".
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    If my wife asks me, "Have you eaten the half of it?" I can answer, "Yes, I have" or "No, I haven't. I've eaten the whole one all of it'.
    But when we don't have this clarification what does English grammar consider as correct?
    The English language does not have the completative/incompletative forms of verb that the Russian language has.

    If I have eaten the thinnest slice of the cake or eaten all of it, the verb is the same - I have eaten the cake.

    What the Russian verb form does is, in English, done by context not the verb:

    Have you eaten that cake?
    Yes, but not much / Yes, but only half / Yes, some of it / Yes, it's good isn't it / Yes, there's none left, etc, etc, etc.
    No... well, not all of it / No, only half / No, is it good? / No, I've not touched it, etc, etc, etc.
     

    IlyaTretyakov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The English language does not have the completative/incompletative forms of verb that the Russian language has.

    If I have eaten the thinnest slice of the cake or eaten all of it, the verb is the same - I have eaten the cake.
    Where have you been all this time? :thank you:This is the answer I've been looking for. I'm going to print this out and hang it on the wall :D
    So, the correct answer would be "yes" rather than "no".
    Thank you very much.

    Building a campfire is a good thing. That does not mean that grammar does it.
    You're funny, I like it :)
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    No, the correct answer is not yes. That is misleading. As people keep trying to tell you, neither yes nor no is an appropriate answer.

    Actually, there are only two possible outcome: either you did, or you didn't.
    That is simply not true. There is a yes or no answer to the question of whether a person is dead. You can't be half dead in a literal sense. But a cake can be half eaten. It is neither eaten (fully) nor uneaten (fully). You have to describe the cake's condition to avoid being a liar because it's more complicated than being one or the other.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    • "Have you eaten the cake that I bought yesterday?"
    which should I answer?
    1. "Yes, I have (eaten it), but I've left half of it for you."
    2. "No, I haven't (eaten it). I've eaten only the half of it."
    Neither, if you want to answer in the way a native English speaker would.

    The problem is that you’re basing your question on the false premise that, in English, having eaten/not eaten the cake that I bought yesterday (clearly specific, and clearly indicating a whole cake) can mean having eaten/not eaten only part of it. It can’t.

    Precisely because the question automatically means, in English, “Have you eaten that [entire] cake?”, a Yes or No answer is not valid unless you’ve eaten either the entire cake or none of it at all. To indicate only some of it, either the question or the answer has to be qualified.

    Have you eaten the cake I bought yesterday?
    Yes. (= I’ve eaten all of it.)​
    No. (= I’ve eaten none of it.)​
    Yes, some of it. :tick:
    No, only some of it. :cross:

    Have you eaten any of the cake I bought yesterday?
    Yes. :tick: (= I’ve eaten some of it.)​
    No. :tick: (= I’ve eaten none of it.)​
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Imagine this example:

    A child has homework from school to do. Their parent asks them "Have you done your home work?"

    If they have done two of their four assignments and they answer "Yes", they have just lied to their parent. A simple "Yes" would be understood as "Yes, I have done all of it. I am finished." But that is not true. However it would also be misrepresenting the situation to say "No". That would suggest they haven't even started.

    Yes and no are not helpful answers in that situation. A description is the only useful answer. "I have done part of it."
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Just because you can ask a yes/no question doesn’t mean it can be successfully/meaningfully/non-misleadingly answered with a simple “yes” or a simple “no.” That’s why we often answer “yes and no”; German even has a single word for that!

    In the cake scenario, I would never ever answer the question with a simple “yes” or a simple “no.” That’s not how English works.

    I would probably use “well,” which is often used when the answer is not as straightforward as the questioner might be expecting:

    - Did you eat the cake?
    - Well, half of it.
     

    IlyaTretyakov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    No, the correct answer is not yes. That is misleading.
    When I said that the correct answer would be "yes" rather than "no", I meant that out of the two 'yes' is better than 'no' with some context. LingoBingo did the same here:
    Have you eaten the cake I bought yesterday?
    Yes. (= I’ve eaten all of it.)​
    No. (= I’ve eaten none of it.)​
    Yes, some of it. :tick:
    No, only some of it. :cross:
    'Yes' would mean the whole thing. 'No' would mean none of it. But with some context we have to use 'yes' rather than 'no'.

    In the cake scenario, I would never ever answer the question with a simple “yes” or a simple “no.” That’s not how English works.
    Please, please, read carefully and try to understand before answering. I never said I wanted to answer with 'yes' or 'no' only. I asked what makes more sense with some context 'yes, half of it' or 'no, only half of it'. LingoBingo sucessfully answered, it would be 'yes'.

    Have you eaten the cake I bought yesterday?
    Yes, some of it. :tick:
    No, only some of it. :cross:
    LingoBingo, thank you!
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    But that is still unsatisfying, because as Elroy says, that's not natural English. You're trying to cram a square peg in a round hole. You can do it, but it's not a good fit.

    "Have you tried the cake I bought?"

    That can be answered with a yes or no. If you have taken even one bite, you have tried it. You don't have to distinguish between one bite or two bites or three bites. After the first bite, the answer changes from no to yes.
     

    IlyaTretyakov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    But that is still unsatisfying, because as Elroy says, that's not natural English. You're trying to cram a square peg in a round hole. You can do it, but it's not a good fit.
    What do you think again is not satisfying about it?

    "Have you tried the cake I bought?"

    That can be answered with a yes or no. If you have taken even one bite, you have tried it. You don't have to distinguish between one bite or two bites or three bites. After the first bite, the answer changes from no to yes.
    Yes, if in my example my wife had asked that. But she didn't. She asked "Have you eaten the cake I bought?" instead.
    So, it's clear that the question was about the verb 'to eat', not about the verb 'to try'.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    She asked "Have you eaten the cake I bought?" instead.
    So, it's clear that the question was about the verb 'to eat', not about the verb 'to try'.
    We are back to your favourite topic - how English deals with situations where an action verb can be interpreted to mean "some of " or "all of", with clarification depending on logic and context.
    1) Did you eat the cake?
    2) Did you eat some of the cake?
    3) Did you eat all of the cake?
    If I really wanted to know what happened to the cake while I was gone, I wouldn't ask question 1 because it is vague.
     
    Last edited:

    IlyaTretyakov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    We are back to your favourite topic - how English deals with situations where an action verb can be interpreted to mean "some of " or "all of", with clarification depending on logic and context.
    I knew you would come and say this ;) I was just waiting for you

    Nope. This time the question is different: which is a better reply to "Did you eat the cake I bought?", "Yes (I did), some of it" or "No (I didn't), only some of it".

    Many people has answered that 'yes' is better than 'no'.
    Have you eaten that cake?
    Yes, but not much / Yes, but only half / Yes, some of it / Yes, it's good isn't it / Yes, there's none left, etc, etc, etc.
    If you insist on having a "yes" or "no" in the response, then "yes" makes more sense, but it must be clarified with "some of it" or "half of it" because an unadorned "yes, I did" means that you ate the entire cake.

    -Did you eat the cake I bought yesterday? [Much more likely than "have you eaten", at least in AE]
    -Yes, some of it.
    Have you eaten the cake I bought yesterday?
    Yes. (= I’ve eaten all of it.)​
    No. (= I’ve eaten none of it.)​
    Yes, some of it. :tick:
    No, only some of it. :cross:
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I was just pointing out that asking the question the way you have in English is an unlikely hypothetical and discussion of the answers I therefore find rather futile. It is still based on the concept of "some of"" versus "all lof" which English and Russsian deal with differently. If someone asked me such a poor question, I would answer as follows
    Yes, some of it.
    Yes, all lof it.
    Yes a little.
    No, none of it.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Which is a better treatment for a heart attack?

    A) Slapping the person in the face
    B) Shattering their kneecap with a hammer

    I think a lot more people would say A if forced to choose. That does not mean either answer is fundamentally acceptable.
     

    IlyaTretyakov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I think a lot more people would say A if forced to choose. That does not mean either answer is fundamentally acceptable.
    I can't understand why you're saying that since a lot of people has already answered. It feels like you're just trying to continue the argument. Even you, yourself, put a like on an answer that shows the option with 'yes'.
    kentix.png

    In fact, it seems to me that you are just repeating the same thing one after another. It's a kind of ultra-conformism. Because when I asked my friends (native English speakers) this question, they answered that it doesn't have to be completely eaten/read etc... (They hadn't been on this forum, so they didn't have to repeat after others, they were thinking with their own heads)

    If someone asked me such a poor question, I would answer as follows
    Yes, some of it.
    Yes, all lof it.
    Yes a little.
    No, none of it.
    Again, 'yes' is better than 'no' as an answer to the question "Did you eat the cake?".
    After all, it's not even my reply!
     
    Last edited:

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I can't understand why you're saying that since a lot of people has already answered. It feels like you're just trying to continue the argument. Even you, yourself, put a like on an answer that shows the option with 'yes'.
    View attachment 75111
    In fact, it seems to me that you are just repeating the same thing one after another. It's a kind of ultra-conformism. Because when I asked my friends (native English speakers) this question, they answered that it doesn't have to be completely eaten/read etc... (They hadn't been on this forum, so they didn't have to repeat after others)


    Again, 'yes' is better than 'no' as an answer to the question "Did you eat the cake?".
    After all, it's not even my reply!
    When you force someone into a situation where they have to answer only yes or no, even when neither alone is what they want use, you'll get something.
     

    IlyaTretyakov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    When you force someone into a situation where they have to answer only yes or no, even when neither alone is what they want use, you'll get something.
    • Have you ever had prague cake?
    I can't believe we can't answer, "Yes(, I have)" just because we didn't eat the whole thing. And I also can't believe that we must specify 'have you ever had any of a prague cake?" to make a better question.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    You just changed the question. "Have you had" and "Did you eat" is not the same pattern. "Have you had" is basically "Have you tried". And you, yourself, said above that tried is not the same as eaten.

    "Have you had?" means one mouthful, especially with the use of "ever".
     

    IlyaTretyakov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    You just changed the question. "Have you had" and "Did you eat" is not the same pattern. "Have you had" is basically "Have you tried". And you, yourself, said above that tried is not the same as eaten.
    Wait. 🧐 You just told me that 'to have' refering to eating something doesn't mean the whole thing, while 'to eat' means the whole thing, right? Hmm...

    "Have you ever had Prague cake?" "Yes, I have."
    "Have you ever eaten Prague cake?" "No, only a little piece."
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    "Have you ever had Prague cake?" "Yes, I have."
    "Have you ever eaten Prague cake?" "I tasted one little piece once."
     

    IlyaTretyakov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    "Have you ever had Prague cake?" "Yes, I have."
    "Have you ever eaten Prague cake?" "I tasted one little piece once."
    If so, we could say that 'to have something (refering to eating)' is the imperfect form of 'to eat something', which, in turn, has the perfect meaning. That's interesting. :thumbsup:
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Could you mean "incompletative"? (See #22 - for the umpteenth time, English does not have such a verb form.
    Imperfect

    Grammar of or naming a verb tense or form that shows a repeated, habitual, or continuing action or state in the past, or an action or state that was in progress at a point of reference in the past:The Spanish verb form hablaban, which means "they used to speak'' or "they were speaking,'' is in the imperfect tense.
    Nothing to do with completion or some versus all of.
     

    Seiryuu

    Senior Member
    Canada; English
    If so, we could say that 'to have something (refering to eating)' is the imperfect form of 'to eat something', which, in turn, has the perfect meaning. That's interesting. :thumbsup:
    No, this doesn't exist in English.

    Answering yes to the example OP provided is technically correct; the responder did partake in the cake (albeit not all of it), but it is generally understood that when someone says the cake the word entire is implied.
     

    IlyaTretyakov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    See #22 - for the umpteenth time, English does not have such a verb form.
    No, this doesn't exist in English.
    Of course, I know that doesn't exist in English. I drew some analogy; you don't have to cling too hard to those details.

    Answering yes to the example OP provided is technically correct; the responder did partake in the cake (albeit not all of it), but it is generally understood that when someone says the cake the word entire is implied.
    Thanks! Very simple and logical answer. I wish all replies were that simple.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    This thread is closed.

    Thank you to the people who made good-faith efforts to respond to the question.

    Cagey,
    moderato
     
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