“You are very near your goal. The quickest way is past me.”

“So…so will you move, please?” said Harry, knowing what the answer was going to be.

“No,” she said, continuing to pace. “Not unless you can answer my riddle. Answer on your first guess - I let you pass. Answer wrongly - I attack. Remain silent - I will let you walk away from me unscathed.”

According to the context, "Answer on your first guess" probably means to manage to get the answer correctly on your first guess. But I'm curious why it hasn't been written as "Answer correctly on your first guess"? How should we understand "Answer on your first guess" here?

  • You could reasonably paraphrase the cited text as Not unless you can answer my riddle. By answer, I mean answer on your first guess. If you answer correctly I [will] let you pass. Which is contextually obvious anyway, since she goes on to say Answer wrongly [and] I [will] attack [you]. Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 17:29

1 Answer 1


The answer to a riddle is the correct one. The verb answer in this riddlic context would mean "answer correctly", not merely "reply with an answer (which might be right or wrong)". Furthermore, the speech of the riddler here is rather formulaic, and that formalism resolves any ambiguity: there's no need to say "correctly" when Answer is contrasted with Answer wrongly.


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