8

The first question is in the Future Continuous tense. Often used in very polite requests and offers.

Will you be having cake?

  1. Yes, thank you.
  2. Yes, I will.
  3. Yes, I will be
  4. Yes, I will do.

The second question is in the Future Simple tense

Will you be late?

  1. Sorry, I will.
  2. Yes, I will
  3. Yes, I will be
  4. I will.

Are any of these short positive answers "wrong"?

Here is the list of short negative answers.

Will you be having cake?

  1. No, thank you.
  2. No, I will not.
  3. No, I won't be
  4. I won't, thank you.

And

Will you be late?

  1. No, I will not
  2. No, I won't
  3. I won't be
  • Are all the answers idiomatic? Are any non-standard?
  • Are there any other acceptable alternatives?
  • What different meanings, if any, do they have?

Related: Why is "I'll be", wrong as a short answer?

  • 2
    The first sentence is not in the present perfect continuous; it's in the future progressive. – Khan Dec 20 '16 at 15:08
  • First question: #4 is wrong, the others should have "thank you". Second question: they should all end with "be", although are understandable as is. Third question: they should all end with "be", "will not" sounds a bit harsh. Fourth question: all answers are possible. – Peter Dec 21 '16 at 2:14
  • @Peter Yes, each short answer for Q 1. could end with a "thank you" but it is not obligatory. I am more interested in exploring different avenues. English coursebooks are very linear in this respect, they will offer only the "classic", tried and tested, short answers; e.g. "Yes, I will" and, "No, I won't." – Mari-Lou A Dec 21 '16 at 8:06
8

This answer is from a British perspective: I don't know whether the situation is similar in the US or other English speaking countries. It is necessary to consider the first question in two different contexts:


You are in somebody's home and they offer you tea and cakes.

Host: Will you be having cake?
Guest: Yes, thank you.

This is a polite offer, and only the first answer is suitable as a polite reply. The remaining answers would be much too assertive, though "Yes, I will, thanks" would be OK.


You are talking with a friend about your birthday party, which is next week.

Friend: Will you be having cake?
You: Yes, I will -or- Yes, I will be

This a request for information, and the first two I will answers are appropriate: they are examples of answer ellipsis.

The Thanks answer is not appropriate because the friend is not offering you cake.

Yes, I will do is an answer ellipsis of Yes, I will do that, or Yes, I will do so. It is probably not an appropriate answer to this particular question, but might be an appropriate way to accept a suggestion, for example:

Friend: I think you should buy a cake
You: Yes, I will do.


For the negative replies about cake, 1 and 4 are OK for offers of cake, and 2 and 3 are appropriate for requests for information.

For will you be late?, all of the positive and negative answers are appropriate, though "No, I will not" might sound a bit tetchy.

  • 1
    The American perspective is much, much less formal. All of the responses are appropriate to all the questions, except the one mentioned in my answer below. In fact, answering "yes I will" when someone asks "will you be having cake?" might make you sound rather posh, and not at all rude. I'll definitely have to polish up my manners if I ever visit the UK. – Andrew Dec 20 '16 at 15:44
  • Does "Yes, I will do." really sound correct to your ear in this context? I'm not trying to dispute you (after all, you're the native speaker here, describing your own linguistic intuition), just surprised. – Ilmari Karonen Dec 20 '16 at 17:03
  • 3
    British English speaker here -- "Yes, I will do" sounds really weird to me in this context. – Giles Thomas Dec 20 '16 at 17:07
  • 2
    @IlmariKaronen You might get some odd looks saying that in the US, too – JPhil Dec 20 '16 at 17:48
  • To my ear, "Yes, I will do" is just wrong and has to be "Yes, I will do so", but though that's correct to my ear, it's somewhat stilted. – SevenSidedDie Dec 20 '16 at 22:53
5

To the question, "Will you be having cake?" answering, "yes I will do" does not sound correct in AmE -- but it wouldn't surprise me coming out of the mouth of a British speaker (as related to some obscure but desperately vital grammar rule that we Americans have long neglected.)

Other than that, all of the rest are fine, and (without additional context) all mean the same thing.

Another option when refusing cake would be to say, "I can't," although usually you would explain why (I'm diabetic, I'm too full, I'm on a diet, etc.). Or you can be more emphatic, "I'd love some!" "Yes please!" or "For god's sake no! (I've had too much sugar already this holiday season)"

There are far too many other possible responses to list, but these cover the basics.

  • 3
    British here, answering "yes, i will do" to an offer of cake sounds appropriate, and fairly acceptable in formal and non-formal situations. The time i'd phrase it like that would be after turning down the cake originally and relenting under pressure to accept, in the sense of "ok, you win, i will have some cake" – Steven Lowes Dec 20 '16 at 19:20
4

I'll give you an analysis of how each one sounds to me (a 20-something Brit)

Will you be having cake?

  1. Yes, thank you.

Polite way of accepting cake.

  1. Yes, I will.

Probably acceptable alternative to "1" but I'd expect a little more politeness, like "Yes, please, I will" or "Yes, I will, thanks". Said in the right tone of voice though it wouldn't come across as rude.

  1. Yes, I will be

Doesn't sound right to me as an answer to the question if you want cake (though I could see it being used), but as noted by JavaLatte it would work fine for the question in the context of a person not offering you cake asking you if you will be eating it (though in the example given of a party I would expect an answer more of "Yes, we will be" since presumably the answerer isn't going to be eating all of it!).

  1. Yes, I will do.

Sounds slightly off when analysing it but I probably wouldn't bat an eyelid if I heard it as a response to the "do you want cake" question.

Will you be late?

  1. Sorry, I will.

Seems fine to me as a polite answer if the organiser or someone who would otherwise be disappointed by your absence is asking the question. Other alternatives for polite answers would be "I'm afraid I will".

  1. Yes, I will
  2. Yes, I will be
  3. I will.

These I would expect more in a case of when someone not in a position to complain about you being late asks you the question. Like a friend asking "Will you be late for that meeting you have with your boss?". These could also be slightly less polite/slightly more terse answers, though again, said in the right tone of voice, they wouldn't come across as positively rude.

Are any of these short positive answers "wrong"?

Here is the list of short negative answers.

Will you be having cake?

  1. No, thank you.

Polite answer.

  1. No, I will not.

This one sounds rude/abrupt to me. "I will not" tends to be quite emphatic these days. "No, I won't" is perfectly fine to my ears and less insistent.

  1. No, I won't be

Again, not impolite, but not particularly polite either. Said in the right tone of voice you wouldn't take offence to it, and again, it'd be used in situations when you aren't being offered cake but instead asked out of curiosity.

  1. I won't, thank you.

Equivalent to 1 to my ears.

Will you be late?

  1. No, I will not

See 2 in the cake question; this would come across as emphatically denying your lack of punctuality, and could be interpreted as you being defensive/getting cross at the suggestion that you would be late.

  1. No, I won't
  2. I won't be

These two sound equivalent to me and would be the answer to the question used in most cases.

  • Are all the answers idiomatic? Are any non-standard?

The only one that sounds slightly off to me is "Yes, I will do" but as I said I probably wouldn't even notice if someone said it to me.

  • Are there any other acceptable alternatives?

Plenty besides the examples I've listed above. There are all sorts of embellishments you can use. In a lot of cases a simple "Yes, please" or even just "Yes" would suffice (though again, depending on tone of voice the latter could come across as being terse and a little impolite). To express reluctance and the idea that you shouldn't really be eating cake but you want to anyway (or even to mock this idea!) you could say "Oh, go on then!"

  • This is why I qualified my answer. If someone asks "Do you want cake?" the response "Yes I will do" sounds ostentatiously British to my crude American ears. It's the kind of thing that I know would be grammatically correct, but lack the proper education to know why :) – Andrew Dec 20 '16 at 19:33
  • I really appreciated your thoughtful analysis, thank you so much :) – Mari-Lou A Dec 20 '16 at 19:54
  • 1
    @Andrew: I have updated my answer to explain under what circumstances "Yes, I will do" would be acceptable. – JavaLatte Dec 21 '16 at 9:42
  • @JavaLatte "You should buy a cake." "Yes I will do" still sounds posh British to me. In AmE it would be normal to say simply "Yes I will" or some variant. I will say my grammar has expanded slightly after watching "Downton Abbey", though. – Andrew Dec 21 '16 at 14:25
1

Responses to two questions

Will you be having cake?
Will you be late?

Will you be having cake?

The standard responses, which you can never go wrong using, might be

Yes, I will have some (name-your-favorite-cake-which-is-being-offered) please.
Yes, please.
Yes, thank you.
No, thank you.
No, (unfortunately) I will (have to) pass.
(No,) not today, thank you.

these are time tested responses for any occasion. But what if you are invited to a friend's home (read: holiday gatherings, how topical)? You could say to compliment the host(ess) (this assumes they made their cake, and if they didn't it may remain their secret)

If you made the cake, I'm definitely having some!
Of course I will have some of your delicious cake.
If you made it, I'm having it!
Only if you made it!

These all acknowledge the effort the host(ess) put in making the cake to create a memorable experience. You might otherwise say

(Well) why not!

meaning "Yes I know I'm overweight and should be on a diet but it's the holidays and I will put aside my health concerns to have some of your delicious cake!".

Will you be late?

Some standard answers are

Yes, I will be (late).
No, I won't be (late).
I hope not to be (late).

If you are asked this question soon after the event is announced, what the speaker may actually be saying is

Will you be late (again like you were last time)?

Jane: So, we are set to meet for the fireworks at 10:30 under the clock.
          David, will you be late?

an answer David might use

I hope not, I will try my best to be on time.
I will try not to be (late).
I don't expect to be (late).
Not if the clocks aren't running fast.

However, if you are asked this either:
1) close to the beginning of the event when you should have shown up already, or
2) you have announced that you have pressing plans just before the event thus casting doubt in people's minds on your punctuality, you should by all means carefully explain your current situation

A: The party is about to start. Where are you? Will you be late?
B: Yes, I'm late, there was an accident which is tying up traffic, I should be there within an hour.

A: Are you going to be late? Should we start without you?
B: In case I am late, please start without me, this could take another 30mins.

Always try to add an expected time of arrival if possible, to be polite.

An old joke is to say to someone who has annoyed you

If you want to fight about it, let's step outside and if I'm late, just start without me.

which is a derivative of

I'll come and make love to you at five o'clock. If I'm late start without me. - Tallulah Bankhead

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