English Daily Workout: Use of Auxiliries in Short Answers

Use of Auxiliries in Short Answers

  Grammar Lesson and Exercises
c. Short answers
Sometimes it is possible to reply to a question by means of a short answer, consisting of a subject, followed by the verb or first auxiliary used in the question. The rules for forming affirmative and negative short answers are similar to those for forming affirmative and negative tag questions. Thus, in the case of the Simple Present and Simple Past of the verb to be, the verb itself is used; and in the case of all other tenses and conjugations, the first auxiliary is used.

The following are examples of questions with affirmative and negative short answers. The verbs and auxiliaries are underlined.

Contractions are usually used in negative short answers.

QuestionAffirmative Short AnswerNegative Short Answer
  Is he ready?                                   Yes, he is.                                                    No, he isn't.
  Were you finished?  Yes, I was.  No, I wasn't.
  Do you know them?  Yes, I do.  No, I don't.
  Did we win?  Yes, we did.  No, we didn't.
  Has he left?  Yes, he has.  No, he hasn't.
  Will they need help?  Yes, they will.  No, they won't.
  Could you help me?  Yes, I could.  No, I couldn't.

It should be noted that the form of the verb in a short answer is not always the same as the form of the verb in the question, since the verb of a short answer must agree with its subject. In the following examples, the verbs are underlined, and their subjects are printed in bold type.
e.g. Are you ready? Yes, I am.
      Were you excited? Yes, I was.

See Exercises below:


by Mary Ansell