4

Is the answer "positive" to the question "How are you" - considered acceptable in meaning of "I am OK"? I have tried to get an answer in a dictionary, but I couldn't find it there, therefore as the last resort I have chosen to use the wisdom of the crowd.

Questioner: How are you?

The person who answers: positive.

N.B. If you answer I'd like to know whether your answer represents British or American English.

  • Remember that the meaning of the question can vary between AmE and BrE - often in BrE we don’t actually want to know how you’re doing - we just expect a “good thanks, you?” response, no matter how you’re feeling. – Tim Apr 1 '18 at 18:28
19

As an American English speaker, it doesn't sound natural to me.

Original Conversation

Q: How are you?

A: * [I'm] positive.

In this case, I'd interpret I'm positive to mean that they were certain about something. Since I'm certain doesn't make sense as an answer to the question, I wouldn't understand what was intended.

Alternative Conversation

Q: How are you?

A: I'm feeling positive.

In this case, I'd understand that the person was saying they felt hopeful, rather than certain.

As pointed out in the comments, this response still only really makes sense when there’s some sort of context that makes it clear what the person is hopeful or optimistic about (ht: topo morto, Mr Lister).

  • 2
    I'm British and I would have given the same answer. – JavaLatte Apr 1 '18 at 1:31
  • I tend to think 'feeling positive' makes most sense when it's clear what particular thing the person is positive about. I don't often hear it as a general description of someone's state. – topo Reinstate Monica Apr 1 '18 at 11:30
  • 1
    Same here. I'm not a native English speaker, but "positive" in this context would mean "optimistic" to me. You can't be "positive" in general, you can only be positive about something. Unless you mean you are positive about everything, which would be a tad weird. – Mr Lister Apr 1 '18 at 13:43
  • Very good points. Updated the answer to reflect the need for context. – godel9 Apr 1 '18 at 13:56
  • I think also that 'positive' in medical connotation can be about antibodies or antigens carriers. – Judicious Allure Apr 1 '18 at 15:05
4

The standard answer is "I am fine, thank you. How are you?" Referring to the common answers in "Business" or polite "British English". You can also say: "I'm doing well" or "I'm doing good" (informal). Answering with "positive" would be suitable to the question "How do you feel about it?"

2

In Canadian English, 'I'm positive' in response to 'How are you?' sounds like you tested positive on a medical test. like pregnancy. but without a previous context of a medical test, it's non sequitur.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.