While teaching in Tokyo I noticed that when I asked a question in the negative like, “You don’t like the olympics?” many students would answer, “Yes.” This is confusing to English speakers because we don’t know what you mean. Do you mean that you like the olympics or don’t like the olympics? Hmmm…..cyotto wakarimasen.
In English we answer a question like this with “No.”
Question: You didn’t go to work yesterday? (Kinou shigoto ni ikanakatta?)
Answer: No. (ie)
The best way to be very clear is to give more information.
Question: You never eat meat?
Answer: No, I never eat meat. I’m a vegetarian.
Question: You didn’t do anything on your birthday?!
Answer: No, I didn’t. I had to work that night so I was very tired. I went out the next night with some friends though.
HOW TO DISAGREE
Sometimes the person asking the question is wrong. You can also answer with “No” but be sure to give more information to correct them.
Question: You don’t like sports?
Answer: No, I love sports! I played baseball in high school and I still play tennis a few times a week. I just don’t like to watch sports on TV.
Question: You didn’t like that movie?
Answer: Well…I liked it but the ending was very predictable.
How would you answer the following questions? Practice agreeing and disagreeing with me. I will give some examples of good answers in my next post about this.
Question: You’ve never travelled outside of Japan?
Answer: ___________________________________________________ (explain why or why not)
Question: You don’t think golf is a real sport?
Answer: ___________________________________________________ (explain why you agree or disagree)
Question: Your parents didn’t want you to attend university?
Check back to see some examples of good answers!