Short Answers in English

Sentence Structure

Short Question, Short AnswerLook at these simple questions:

Can you handle the truth?
Are you busy?

To answer them your students will often give just a Short Answer:

Are you rich?
No, I’m not!

Does he smoke?
Yes, he does.

Who killed the king?
He did.

Short Answers & TEFL

Sometimes your students will give a simple yes or no answer to questions like these.This is not wrong but can sound a bit abrupt. Instead you should encourage them to give longer answers, using the patterns explained below.

In addition (and wherever possible) you should ask them open-ended questions questions instead or at least follow up a closed question with an open one to encourage them to speak more:

Teacher: Do you like playing football?
Student: Yes.
Teacher: What do you like about it?
Student: Well, I like…

Forming a Short Answer

Answering Yes/No Questions

With yes/no questions in order to make a short answer we use this pattern:

{yes/no} + {subject} + {auxiliary} + [not]

Are you happy?
Yes + I + am.

Can you swim?
Yes + I + can.

Do you like it?
No + we + do + not.

Note that when the answer is yes/no + be, we never abbreviate the verb:

Are you French?
* Yes, I’m

Is he French?
* Yes he’s.

* an asterisk denotes an ungrammatical sentence.

Answering Subject Questions

With subject questions‏‎: (questions beginning with who, which, where, etc) we use this pattern with the modal or auxiliary verb.

{subject} + {modal/auxiliary}

Who found it?
I + did.

What was found?
This + was.

How many have left?
Seventeen + have.

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