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Business English Skill Set - Small Talk

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Lesson 5, Topic 1
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Short Answers

Kate July 23, 2020
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Short answers allow us to answer a question quickly and politely.

They are formed like this: Yes/No + Subject + Auxiliary Verb.

Use the auxiliary from the question in the answer.

For example: Do you like Italian food? Yes, I do!

Has Jamie got back to you about the pricing structure yet? No, he hasn’t.

Note: Whilst it is grammatically correct to use the auxiliary +not, for example, “No he has not”, it sounds much more natural to use the contracted form of the auxiliary verb in negative (didn’t, don’t, doesn’t, hasn’t etc.)

Let’s imagine a situation...

Your boss asks: “Did you send those files through to Robert?”

Which answer sounds better:

A) Yeah.

B) Yes, Sirree!

C) Yes, I sent those files through to Robert.

D) Yes, I did.

Which one did you pick?

Let’s go through the options…

A – A bit too casual.

B – Far too casual!

C – Grammatically correct, but repeating all the information from the question is unnecessary.

D – Great! To the point, polite, and a clear confirmation.

  • Remember, you can always add more information afterwards if it’s necessary or relevant! For example: “Yes, I did. He confirmed that he had received it this morning and will get back to us later this week.”

Examples of Short Answers

Are you a good tennis player?

No, I’m not. I prefer badminton.

Have you ever been to Mexico?

Yes, I have. I went last year with my family. It’s a beautiful country!

Do you follow any sports?

Yes, I do. I’m a big football fan!

Do you know if Dawn is going to the after-work drinks tonight?

No, she isn’t. She’s going to see her parents this weekend so she can’t make it unfortunately.