Answering Questions

RΓ©pondre aux questions

In English, you can only answer yes / no questions with variations on the themes of yes, no, and I don’t know. French, however, has another possibility: yes in response to no.

1) Oui = Yes

– Aimez-vous voyager ?
– Oui.
  – Do you like traveling?
– Yes.
– Il est prΓͺt ?
– Oui.
  – He’s ready?
– Yes.

2) Non = No

– Aimez-vous voyager ?
– Non.
  – Do you like traveling?
– No (I don’t).
– Il n’est pas prΓͺt ?
– Non.
  – He isn’t ready?
– No (he’s not).

3) Si = Yes, to contradict a negative question or statement

– N’aimez-vous pas voyager ?
– Non.
  – Don’t you like traveling?
– No (I don’t).
– N’aimez-vous pas voyager ?
– Si.
  – Don’t you like traveling?
– Yes, I do.
– Il n’est pas prΓͺt.
– Non.
  – He isn’t ready.
– No (he isn’t).
– Il n’est pas prΓͺt.
– Si.
  – He isn’t ready.
– Yes, he is.

 Oui and si are not interchangeable: oui can only be used to agree with an affirmative question, while si can only contradict a negative question or statement.

Par exemple…

– Aimez-vous voyager ?
– Oui. / Si.
  – Do you like traveling?
– Yes (that’s correct, I do).
– N’aimez-vous pas voyager ?
– Si. / Oui.
  – Don’t you like traveling?
– (You’re wrong.) Yes, I do.
– Pierre n’aime pas voyager.
– Si. / Oui.
  – Pierre doesn’t like traveling.
– (You’re wrong.) Yes, he does.

 I love the word si and was thrilled when I mastered its usage. It was disconcerting to discover that in Morocco and Guadeloupe, si is sometimes used like oui.

 Related lessons

 Share / Tweet / Pin Me!

French questions

Questions about French?

 Visit the Progress with Lawless French Q+A forum to get help from native French speakers and fellow learners.

More Lawless French

 Subscribe to my twice-weekly newsletter.

Support Lawless French

  This free website is created with love and a great deal of work.

If you love it, please consider making a one-time or monthly donation.

Your support is entirely optional but tremendously appreciated.

Leave a Reply