I understand very well that a phrase like "No animals are allowed." is correct English. It means animals are forbidden; they aren't allowed.

But imagine a place or an organization where administration does allow participants or visitors carrying their animals with themselves. I think in modern world it is possible. Then imagine a visitor who asks: "Are animals forbidden here?" Can the director or manager answer: "No, animals are allowed." or "No, animals are allowed here."?

According to my textbook, it's not possible. My textbook says an essentially affirmative answer ("Animals are allowed.") cannot begin with negation 'no' (followed by a comma). But I doubt if this is true.

  • When with humans, animals are pets! – Maulik V Nov 13 '17 at 9:58
  • Don't let the punctuation throw you off when parsing the statement. It is actually two separate statements. No, [animals are not forbidden here]. Animals are allowed here. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Nov 13 '17 at 15:33
  • There is nothing at all the matter with "No, animals are allowed" as an answer to "Are animals forbidden?" It's not just in spoken language that it's okay, but in every register. In fact, I don't know if there's a better way to phrase that answer. – Luke Sawczak Nov 13 '17 at 16:22

Please, don't forget that the grammar they teach you in textbooks is one thing. In reality, people break all those rules and their grammar can get rather sloppy. This happens all the time in English. I'll just give one very good example to illustrate this point. In the very popular American TV show Seinfeld, I heard the main character Jerry say "Where's my sneakers?" when he was looking for his running shoes and couldn't find them. Well, that kind of phraseology is totally out of line with English grammar standards. Grammatically, you can't say where is my sneakers because the word sneakers is used as a plural noun, so you need a plural verb in this case. But that's life and people disregard grammar all the time. And believe me there's absolutely nothing wrong in saying no, animals are allowed despite your book telling you otherwise.

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    I might recommend that you separate these two points to make it clear that this isn't even one of those cases where we let it slide. – Luke Sawczak Nov 13 '17 at 16:24

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