Doing a test, I had to choose between two possible responses to the question

Are we writing a composition tomorrow?

The options were

I hope not


I'm afraid so.

I chose option Two, which was sooner an intuitive guess than a conscious choice.

Now I'm doubtful about whether I was right.

Would the option "I hope not" be correct if the question were

We are not writing a composition tomorrow, are we?

If I made a mistake, can you explain where I was wrong? And if I was right, why the "I hope not" response is wrong. It seems I'm missing something and I can't make out what.

  • Hmm... what test is this? I hope it's by a native speaker, but I'm afraid I guess it's not. Apr 10, 2017 at 22:20
  • @DamkerngT. - Vancouver English Centre on-line test
    – Victor B.
    Apr 10, 2017 at 22:27
  • Thanks! (I can't access that site, though.) I guess we're in the same boat, then. :-) -- BTW, I think it'd be better to add the link to your question. Apr 10, 2017 at 22:28
  • @DamkerngT. The problem is that you'll never know which one of nearly two hundred questions there you answered incorrectly. Maybe this particular one I have answered correctly, maybe not, but still, it bothers me a lot; -) - thence, the question
    – Victor B.
    Apr 10, 2017 at 22:40
  • @Max - Just a single question and multiple choice (from four options, the other two being obviously wrong).
    – Victor B.
    Apr 10, 2017 at 22:53

2 Answers 2


The question doesn't make any sense as you have stated it, because both responses are perfectly grammatical and natural replies. The second one means "Yes", and expresses regret about this. The first one suggests that the replier thinks the answer is "No"; but it is possible the replier is just not sure. Either way, the possibility it unwelcome.

I suppose that the question-setter wants you to choose the second because that gives a definite answer to the question; but the other is just as valid linguistically in every way.


If the second option appears with a period as posted it is incorrect. “I’m afraid so.”!is not a complete sentence.

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