As commonly known, amphibians live both in water and on land. Then how should we answer to a YES-NO question that only accepts a boolean answer such as "Does it live in water?" when we are referring to an amphibian?
closed as unclear what you're asking by Catija♦, Nathan Tuggy, godel9, stangdon, Michael Rybkin Apr 7 '18 at 12:46
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In English we have an expression "Yes and no" to indicate the answer is too complicated for a simple binary true or false -- that is, we have to qualify the answer in some way.
A: Did you go to the club with Gina last night?
B: Yes and no. Yes, I went to the club last night, and Gina also went to the club, but we didn't go there together.
In the same way, "Do amphibians live in water?" deserves a qualified answer:
Yes and no. Amphibians do live mostly in the water, but they can also live on land for extended periods of time.
Naturally, if you answer "Yes and no" the listener always expects some kind of explanation.
The technical answer to the question is yes.
Outside of a legal or formal proceeding - a common answer that affirms the question, yet leaves other possibilities open is "Sometimes."
Just because a question is a "yes/no question", it doesn't mean that the person answering the question has to use only "yes" or "no". They can give a nuanced answer.
The amphibian example is rather odd, as amphibians can't talk. But a Japanese person may go to Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. If you ask this person
Are you a Buddhist?
Well, when I visit the temple I pray there, but I also worship the Shinto kami, so I guess you could say I'm both Buddhist and Shinto.
Your amphibian could answer "I can live on land and in the water."
There is a kind of trick to ask "Have you stopped beating your wife". Answering "yes" or "no" is unacceptable. But answering "I never beat my wife" is possible.
More practically, some people don't identify as either male or female, so if they are asked if they are man or a woman, the would have to give a nuanced answer.
Designers of of webpages with forms need to think carefully about such cases. If some of your users are amphibian, a checkbox to answer "do you live in water?" would not be good design!