Can we use "no" and then say an affirmative sentence to a yes/no question?



Take this question.

Do you have two brothers?

For short answers we can say" no,I don't and for long answers we should say " No I don't have two brothers

Can I answer "No, I have 3 brothers."

Masih K

Posted 2017-09-14T16:01:37.527

Reputation: 1 073



Yes, you can say "no" whenever you disagree with any part of a question. These are all good:

Do you have two brothers?

Yes, I have two brothers.

No, I have two sisters.

No, I have three brothers.

Yes, I have three brothers. [INCORRECT]

Well, I have three brothers. [OK]

I have three brothers. [OK]

If you don't want to say "no" to the questioner (for whatever reason), you can say "well" instead of "no." Or simply give the correct information: I have three brothers.

Worth noting: there is a different type of quantity-related question that would expect a different response from above. For example:

Do you have two dollars?

Yes, I have $500 in my bank account.

In this case, the question is really Do you have at least two dollars? In such cases, you would respond with "yes" even though you don't have exactly two dollars. This might be common sense but is worth mentioning.


Posted 2017-09-14T16:01:37.527

Reputation: 7 245

10Calling the 4th response incorrect is not accurate. If you have three brothers, you also have two brothers. You might not want to use it because it can be confusing, but that doesn't make it incorrect. – corsiKa – 2017-09-14T20:47:13.210

Point taken! Practically speaking, I think it's OK to call it incorrect for the purposes of learning English. – Ringo – 2017-09-14T20:49:10.280

4That strongly depends on the kind of thing being counted though. If asked, "do you have two dollars," the response "no, I have three dollars" would be strange. – Tavian Barnes – 2017-09-14T20:53:29.703

I suppose that's correct, too, but I can't possibly account for every example. The sample question mentioned brothers. – Ringo – 2017-09-14T21:05:58.783

I think having (at least) two dollars or not requires an innate understanding that goes beyond any language. – Ringo – 2017-09-14T21:08:06.967

8Amusingly, if the question is "Do you have a brother?" then the answer should probably be "Yes, I have three brothers." – user3067860 – 2017-09-14T21:44:21.517

Yes, I might amend my answer, because I see two types of questions here. 1) The question involving a count demands a literal answer. 2) The question involving a count wants to know if there are at least or more of the item than the number asked. – Ringo – 2017-09-14T21:52:34.217

If I were speaking with a mathematician, I might expect the response "Yes, and indeed I have three brothers" or "Yes, and moreover I have three brothers" rather than "Yes, I have three brothers". Not sure how weird that sounds to a non-mathematician native speaker. – Patrick Stevens – 2017-09-14T22:34:23.983

That's interesting. If someone asks you if you have two brothers, do you assume that to mean at least two brothers? That wouldn't be how I infer it, but maybe it's different on the other side of the pond. In the US, I don't think you would ever hear Yes, and indeed I have three brothers. – Ringo – 2017-09-14T22:39:30.063

1"Yes, I have two brothers, and one more brother." – Barmar – 2017-09-15T02:16:48.303

Im curious to know if this is a difference in dialect now. – Ringo – 2017-09-15T02:32:31.523

4I'm sure there's a circumstance in which "yeah, nah, bro" is an answer to this question. – Rupert Morrish – 2017-09-15T02:41:28.153

3@ringo I strongly suspect the difference is not dialect but the fact that mathematicians are severely overrepresented on ELL due to the fact that it's a stackexchange site, and mathematicians are ... well let's say we're differently abled.:) – DRF – 2017-09-15T08:46:28.517

1I think it would be valid to say "Yes, in fact I have three". (I am reminded poignantly of a friend who always insisted that she had three children, because she always counted the one who died in infancy.) – Michael Kay – 2017-09-15T08:52:41.813

1@Ringo Personally, I would use the phrasing 'actually, I have three brothers' instead, but I'm both a non-native speaker and a pedant. My personal pedantry leads me to avoid answers that are 'technically correct' most of the time in order to avoid wasting time on someone else being pedantic in return. – Cronax – 2017-09-15T09:29:57.277

1It's worth noting that there are logic puzzles and word games based on the fact that having x relatives is not inconsistent with having y relatives, when having the greater number is generally thought of as not having the lesser. – mcalex – 2017-09-15T13:49:52.103

1Another way to answer if you wanted to be a little witty, similar to @MichaelKay 's answer, would be "Yes, and a third one too!" – Doktor J – 2017-09-15T14:40:52.483

@DRF Yes, I can see that I've hit a nerve by saying that 4th line is incorrect. It is rather surprising to me, though. I would think a mathematician would be very literal, in which case that 4th line is absolutely incorrect. The idea of "at least" being implied through language seems less precise (and less mathematical) to me. But who am I -- I'm just a computer programmer! – Ringo – 2017-09-15T16:16:18.393

@MichaelKay Yes, that is poignant. I guess you never really get over losing a child. This kind of response makes more sense to me – Ringo – 2017-09-15T16:22:35.723

@Cronax Thanks, I'm pedantic myself, but I also try to make sure the answer is clear and understandable. It's a balancing act sometimes! – Ringo – 2017-09-15T16:24:44.987


Yes, definitely you can say that. Other examples:

Did you turn in the reports this morning?
No, I turned them in yesterday evening.

Did you make me breakfast?
No, it's after noon, so I made you lunch. If you wanted breakfast you should have got up earlier.

Does she play tennis?
No she's a golfer.

and so on.


Posted 2017-09-14T16:01:37.527

Reputation: 85 521

1Another very common use is in a store or perhaps when someone asks you for money - "Do you have a dollar?" "No, I don't have any cash on me."/"No, I don't have any change.", etc – BruceWayne – 2017-09-15T04:11:27.373


it would be wrong to answer "no" to the question "do you have 2 brothers" if in fact you have more than 2 brothers. the question is ambiguous; does it mean "do you have exactly 2 brothers?" or "at least 2 brothers?"


Posted 2017-09-14T16:01:37.527

Reputation: 185

2I wasn't the downvoter - but really, only the most extreme pedant could argue that the question is ambiguous in everyday speech. One would assume that if this were intended then question would be 'Do you have at least two brothers?' – peterG – 2017-09-14T20:39:05.737

you have obviously never worked with a computer programmer! :) – mobileink – 2017-09-14T20:45:38.973

Ha! I am a computer programmer and I almost mentioned that mindset in my comment! Thing is, I'm careful to keep that kind of thinking out of my everyday life (most of the time) . [See also: that thing with AND vs OR in speech vs in code.] – peterG – 2017-09-14T20:48:42.633

@peterG i personally would not be so cavslier about "everyday speech". it's easy to imagine situations where the same q could be used with either sense. – mobileink – 2017-09-14T20:50:09.557

I have to agree with peterG here – Ringo – 2017-09-14T20:50:54.977

@peterG heh. i used to work with a programmer who chewed his pens (ink all over his face) and insisted on answering every q in the most literal sense possible. nice guy but a little hard to talk to. you don't let that guy talk to customers, heh. – mobileink – 2017-09-14T20:53:07.740

@mobileink Sorry I have to disagree - I personally find there are only rare instances where there is any real ambiguity when dealing with non-coders. As an example, most of us developers, when asked 'Do you want a lemonade or a beer?' will understand that 'Yes' is not an acceptable answer . . . – peterG – 2017-09-14T20:55:55.797

@mobileink . . .but I'm thinking that guy was an exception! – peterG – 2017-09-14T21:07:58.467

@peterG yeah, obviously "beer" is the correct answer. but in my experience you cannot be too careful. you'd be surprised how often the obvious turns out to be otherwise. classic example "how many kids do you have?" teachers took that to mean "in your class". – mobileink – 2017-09-14T21:24:24.347

1@mobileink a programmer was off to do some grocery shopping and his wife asked, "Please buy some bread, and if they have eggs, buy a dozen?" So he came home with 12 loaves of bread. – Andrew – 2017-09-14T21:33:58.870

@Andrew: i am going to shamelessly steal that one. aside from being funny, i think it useful for training clients. – mobileink – 2017-09-14T21:36:45.090

@mobilelink it's a pretty common programmer joke, I can't take credit for it. – Andrew – 2017-09-14T21:39:17.433

this really doesn't answer the question... – Please stop being evil – 2017-09-15T09:47:54.873

As so often, it depends on context. "I need two people to help put up the staging tomorrow." "I'll see if I can get my brothers to help". "Do you have two brothers"? "Yes, in fact I have three". – Michael Kay – 2017-09-15T17:46:34.337


Masih, you shouldn't be using a comma. You should use a full stop after "no." It's the proper way to terminate the sentence before saying "I have three brothers."

If you had said, "No, I don't," or "No, I don't have two brothers," the use of a comma would be fine. General rule of thumb, after giving a direct response, use a period before you start adding any additional information to the response.

"Did you watch the game last night?"
"Yes, I did." (nothing added to response) "Yes. I thought it was great!" (added to our response versus what was asked) "No, I didn't watch the game last night." (still nothing added)

So I agree with the examples Ringo gave. I'm only emphasizing on the punctuation because I think it might help sort of draw a distinction there.

Randall Whitlock

Posted 2017-09-14T16:01:37.527

Reputation: 141

2This is incorrect. Assuming you're talking about "No, I have 3 brothers.", in this instance the comma is perfectly fine. Arguably there should be a comma in "No I don't have two brothers" – mcalex – 2017-09-15T13:43:50.913