I'm an ESL student, and I just don't understand how to answer this kind of question. for example, If I ask someone, "Could you please not open the window?", and he answers, "No, I won't do that"

Does it mean that he will not open the window or he will open the window? I am confused about the "that" in his answer represents the "not open the window" or "open the window"?


It really depends on whether he's intentionally being obtuse and unhelpful or not. If he's a normal person just acceding to your request, he means he won't open the window. But the proper answer to the question is, "Sure, I won't open it."

A person who is being a PITA will mean "No, I won't NOT open the window," which means he will open the window.


“Please do something. “ Is a request. “Do something”. Is an order. “If it pleases you, do something.” Is a less ambiguous way to request “Please do something.” Causes a problem because one of the parties may differ on whether it is directive or not. The situation gets exploitative when someone thinks they have been ordered, while the other person knows darn well that it was technically a request.

  • Could you edit your post to address the given question? OP is asking about "could you please not do something?" and what a "negative" response means.
    – Em.
    Dec 28 '19 at 22:40

It's not a question, even though it has the form of a question. The "please" makes it a request. The appropriate response is to comply by not opening the window or to refuse to comply by opening it, as appropriate to the situation.

  • This is not what he is asking. He is the one asking someone to not open the window, and he is confused about the other guy's response. Jan 20 '19 at 21:56
  • @ZerGreenOne, I disagree. Besides, no answer from anyone would be appropraite, because it's not a question.
    – Greg Lee
    Jan 20 '19 at 22:01
  • Quote: I am confused about the "that" in his answer represents the "not open the window" or "open the window" [in my question (implicit)] Jan 20 '19 at 22:09
  • @ZerGreenOne, But there is no answer, since it is not a question, so his answer is not interpretable. No question, no answer.
    – Greg Lee
    Jan 20 '19 at 23:04
  • You can still answer things that aren't questions. You can answer a call. You can answer a request. If you google "define answer", you find that answer means "a thing that is said, written, or done as a reaction to a question, statement, or situation". So it basically just needs to be a reaction to something. And it gives you plenty of examples of answers to things that aren't questions. Is English even your first language? Jan 20 '19 at 23:08

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