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Let's suppose someone asked someone a question or made a proposal sometime ago and is still waiting for a reply. Is it idiomatic to ask "Will the (an) answer be?" meaning that he or she wants to know if the person will provide an answer to the question or the proposal?

By the way, I know we can say "What will the answer be?" meaning that we are interested whether it is yes or no, but may we ask "Will the (an) answer be?" if we want to know whether the answer will be provided at all?

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May we ask "Will the (an) answer be?" if we want to know whether the answer will be provided at all?

No, that particular phrase would not be used.

Instead, you would say something like one of the following:

Will there be an answer?
Will you be answering?
Are you going to answer?

Or even:

Is there an answer?

In the last, it's possible that it's not a question of if something will be provided but if it's possible to provide something.

  • Thank you very much! Could you please also explain whether the phrase "Will the (an) answer be?" is still grammatical? And do natives recall the phrase "to be, or not to be" if they would hear the "Will the (an) answer be?"? – Alexey Jan 18 at 11:25
  • @Alexey Technically speaking, it's grammatical. But if it's ever said to somebody, they will find it strange and ask, "Will it be what?" It would make a lot more sense if you added something like coming or forthcoming to the end. I can't see there being any association to Shakespeare. And even if there were, I doubt it would lead to a better understanding of the question. – Jason Bassford Jan 18 at 12:53
  • But I didn't get the reason of confusion. If "to be, or not to be" is said to somebody - will he or she find it strange and ask "Be what?" ? It seems to be perfectly clear phrase, meaning "to exist, or not to exist". The same about my phrase - "Will the(an) answer exist". – Alexey Jan 18 at 13:13
  • @Alexey The reference would be understood. Aside from that specific reference, nobody uses that kind of language. When using be, it's almost always used along with something else. If we want to say exist we use that word instead. – Jason Bassford Jan 18 at 14:02
  • Did I get it right that the phrase "to be, or not to be" sounds unnatural for a modern native English speaker? – Alexey Jan 19 at 8:22
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It depends on context, formally you might write:

  • we are waiting for your kind reply to our proposal.
  • Yes, I might, but I want to know is the phrase "Will the (an) answer be?" used by native english speakers (and in what context it is accepatble)? Thanks! – Alexey Jan 2 at 11:46
  • @Alexey “Will the (an) answer be? is not a complete sentence... be what? – user070221 Jan 2 at 12:19
  • Are you sure that sentence is incomplete - what about the phrase "to be, or not to be" then? – Alexey Jan 2 at 12:26
  • @Alexey - are you writing poetry or a commercial letter? That’s up to you! – user070221 Jan 2 at 12:29
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    @Alexey - it is not a question of formal or informal contexts, the sentence in itself, doesn’t mean anything. That’s all from me! Good luck! – user070221 Jan 2 at 12:41

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