Can we use "no" and then say an affirmative sentence to a yes/no question?

Take this question.

Do you have two brothers?

For short answers we can say" no,I don't and for long answers we should say " No I don't have two brothers

Can I answer "No, I have 3 brothers."

Yes, you can say "no" whenever you disagree with any part of a question. These are all good:

Do you have two brothers?

Yes, I have two brothers.

No, I have two sisters.

No, I have three brothers.

Yes, I have three brothers. [INCORRECT]

Well, I have three brothers. [OK]

I have three brothers. [OK]

If you don't want to say "no" to the questioner (for whatever reason), you can say "well" instead of "no." Or simply give the correct information: I have three brothers.

Worth noting: there is a different type of quantity-related question that would expect a different response from above. For example:

Do you have two dollars?

Yes, I have \$500 in my bank account.

In this case, the question is really Do you have at least two dollars? In such cases, you would respond with "yes" even though you don't have exactly two dollars. This might be common sense but is worth mentioning.

• Calling the 4th response incorrect is not accurate. If you have three brothers, you also have two brothers. You might not want to use it because it can be confusing, but that doesn't make it incorrect. Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 20:47
• That strongly depends on the kind of thing being counted though. If asked, "do you have two dollars," the response "no, I have three dollars" would be strange. Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 20:53
• Amusingly, if the question is "Do you have a brother?" then the answer should probably be "Yes, I have three brothers." Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 21:44
• I'm sure there's a circumstance in which "yeah, nah, bro" is an answer to this question. Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 2:41
• @ringo I strongly suspect the difference is not dialect but the fact that mathematicians are severely overrepresented on ELL due to the fact that it's a stackexchange site, and mathematicians are ... well let's say we're differently abled.:)
– DRF
Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 8:46

Yes, definitely you can say that. Other examples:

Did you turn in the reports this morning?
No, I turned them in yesterday evening.

Did you make me breakfast?
No, it's after noon, so I made you lunch. If you wanted breakfast you should have got up earlier.

Does she play tennis?
No she's a golfer.

and so on.

• Another very common use is in a store or perhaps when someone asks you for money - "Do you have a dollar?" "No, I don't have any cash on me."/"No, I don't have any change.", etc Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 4:11

it would be wrong to answer "no" to the question "do you have 2 brothers" if in fact you have more than 2 brothers. the question is ambiguous; does it mean "do you have exactly 2 brothers?" or "at least 2 brothers?"

• I wasn't the downvoter - but really, only the most extreme pedant could argue that the question is ambiguous in everyday speech. One would assume that if this were intended then question would be 'Do you have at least two brothers?' Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 20:39
• you have obviously never worked with a computer programmer! :) Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 20:45
• Ha! I am a computer programmer and I almost mentioned that mindset in my comment! Thing is, I'm careful to keep that kind of thinking out of my everyday life (most of the time) . [See also: that thing with AND vs OR in speech vs in code.] Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 20:48
• @mobileink a programmer was off to do some grocery shopping and his wife asked, "Please buy some bread, and if they have eggs, buy a dozen?" So he came home with 12 loaves of bread. Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 21:33
• As so often, it depends on context. "I need two people to help put up the staging tomorrow." "I'll see if I can get my brothers to help". "Do you have two brothers"? "Yes, in fact I have three". Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 17:46

Masih, you shouldn't be using a comma. You should use a full stop after "no." It's the proper way to terminate the sentence before saying "I have three brothers."

If you had said, "No, I don't," or "No, I don't have two brothers," the use of a comma would be fine. General rule of thumb, after giving a direct response, use a period before you start adding any additional information to the response.

"Did you watch the game last night?"
"Yes, I did." (nothing added to response) "Yes. I thought it was great!" (added to our response versus what was asked) "No, I didn't watch the game last night." (still nothing added)

So I agree with the examples Ringo gave. I'm only emphasizing on the punctuation because I think it might help sort of draw a distinction there.

• This is incorrect. Assuming you're talking about "No, I have 3 brothers.", in this instance the comma is perfectly fine. Arguably there should be a comma in "No I don't have two brothers" Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 13:43