Present Tense - Short Answers

English Grammar Rules

Short Answers with Do and Does

In questions that use do/does it is possible to give short answers, to direct questions as follows:

Sample Questions Short Answer
(Affirmative)
Short Answer
(Negative)
Do I need a ticket? Yes, you do. No, you don't.
Do you need a dictionary? Yes, I do. No, I don't.
Do you both speak English? Yes, we do. No, we don't.
Do they need help? Yes, they do. No, they don't.
Does he like chocolate? Yes, he does. No, he doesn't.
Does she want to come? Yes, she does. No, she doesn't.
Does it have four legs? Yes, it does. No, it doesn't.

Short Answers with To Be

In questions that use Is or Are it is possible to give short answers as follows:

Sample Questions Short Answer
(Affirmative)
Short Answer
(Negative)
Am I early? Yes, you are. No, you aren't.
Are you busy now? Yes, I am. No, I'm not.
Are you both surprised? Yes, we are. No, we aren't.
Are they hungry? Yes, they are. No, they aren't.
Is he late again? Yes, he is. No, he isn't.
Is she a good student? Yes, she is. No, she isn't.
Is it ready? Yes, it is. No, it isn't.

In most cases, it is possible to give a short answer or a long answer to a question in English. In casual conversation, short answers are much more common than long answers. Long answers are for more formal conversations or if you want to give more information in your response.

Examples

  • Do you like seafood?
    - Yes, I do
    - No, I don't.
  • Can you speak German?
    - Yes, I can
    - No, I can't.
  • Is there a hotel in this street?
    - Yes, there is
    - No, there isn't.
  • Are they coming to the movies?
    - Yes, they are
    - No, they aren't.

If you look at the examples above you will notice that the answer uses the first verb in the question (even if it is an auxiliary verb). This is a common characteristic of short answers in English. Contrast that to long answers to each of those questions:

  • Do you like seafood?
    - Yes, I like seafood.
    - No, I don't like seafood.
  • Can you speak German?
    - Yes, I can speak German.
    - No, I can't speak German.
  • Is there a hotel in this street?
    - Yes, there is a hotel at the end of this street.
    - No, there isn't a hotel in this street.
  • Are they coming to the movies?
    - Yes, they are coming to the movies.
    - No, they are not coming to the movies.

You will notice that long answers often sound repetitive. A long answer to one of these questions would be considered very formal in English, and in most cases, unnecessary.

Remember, when you are accepting or refusing something to say 'yes, please' or 'no, thank you'. It is much more common to give short answers to questions like these:

  • Would you like a beer?
    Yes, please.
  • Do you need any help?
    No, thank you.



Next activity

Try our interactive game to practice Short Answers in the Present Tense

See our grammar notes about Short Answers with To Be in the Present Tense.


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Last Updated: 13 November 2014
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