An interrogative construction that expects an answer of "yes" or "no." Contrast with wh- question.
- Alternative Question
- Declarative Question
- Direct Question
- Indirect Question
- Interogative Sentence
- NICE Properties
- Tag Question
- Twelve Types of Questions in Casablanca
Examples and Observations:
- Homer: Are you an angel?
Moe: Yes, Homer. All us angels wear Farrah slacks.
- "Directing a movie is a very overrated job, we all know it. You just have to say 'yes' or 'no.' What else do you do? Nothing. 'Maestro, should this be red?' Yes. 'Green?' No. 'More extras?' Yes. 'More lipstick?' No. Yes. No. Yes. No. That's directing."
(Judi Dench as Liliane La Fleur in Nine, 2009)
- Principal McGee: Are you just going to stand there all day?
Sonny: No ma'am. I mean, yes ma'am. I mean, no ma'am.
Principal McGee: Well, which is it?
Sonny: Um, no ma'am.
(Eve Arden and Michael Tucci in Grease, 1978)
- Three Varieties of Yes-No Question
The yes-no question is found in three varieties: the inverted question, the typical exemplar of this kind; the inverted question offering an alternative (which may require more than a simple yes or no for an answer); and the tag question:
Are you going? (inversion)The inverted question merely inverts the subject and the first verb of the verb phrase of the corresponding statement pattern when that verb is either a modal or an auxiliary verb or the verb be and sometimes have. The question itself may be positive or negative:
Are you staying or going? (inversion with alternative)
You're going, aren't you? (tag)
She is leaving on Wednesday.. . . A positive question appears to be neutral as to the expected response--yes or no. However, a negative question seems to hold out the distinct possibility of a negative response.
Is she leaving on Wednesday?
Are you going? Yes/No.(Ronald Wardhaugh, Understanding English Grammar: A Linguistic Approach. Wiley-Blackwell, 2003)
Aren't you going? No.
- The Use of Yes-No Questions in Polls and Surveys
"There are many different ways to format questions on a survey. Let's say you want to measure people's attitudes toward premarital sex. You could ask a simple yes-no question:
Are you in favor of premarital sex?Or you could use a Likert-type scale where the question is phrased as a statement."
___ Yes ___ No
(Annabel Ness Evans and Bryan J. Rooney, Methods in Psychological Research, 2nd ed. Sage, 2011)
"Typically, pollsters ask questions that will elicit yes or no answers. Is it necessary to point out that such answers do not give a robust meaning to the phrase 'public opinion'? Were you, for example, to answer 'No' to the question 'Do you think the drug problem can be reduced by government programs?' one would hardly know much of interest or value about your opinion. But allowing you to speak or write at length on the matter would, of course, rule out using statistics."
(Neil Postman, Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. Alfred A. Knopf, 1992)