In an application form I saw this question. The applicant needs to check one box yes or no.

I have not been employed in any illegal entities.

Choose Yes or No

It confuses me, If the applicant wants to agree with the statement that he has not been employed in any illegal gaming entities. What should he choose?

  • What sort of application form? Who produced it?
    – James K
    Feb 10, 2019 at 15:29

1 Answer 1


In normal English, "No" is always paired with a negative verb phrase, even when answering a question posted in a negative form.

Have you never seen Star Wars?
No, I've never seen it, not even on video.

But in regular English, one doesn't give a statement, and ask people to respond yes or no. You could respond "Yes, this is true" or "No, I have not". This means that there is no way of knowing what the person who produced this questionnaire was thinking. It would confuse anyone.

Not only is the Yes or No answer ambiguous. The meaning of "illegal entities" is weird. What is an "illegal entity?" I have no idea.

If it is an important form, the only thing you can do is contact the person who produced it, and point out that the question is broken and unanswerable. If you can avoid the organisation that produced such a question, then do so.

This question reminds me of some of the questions used in America under racist Jim Crow laws. The purpose was to prevent African Americans from voting. They had questions like this that made no sense. But if you were black, whatever answer you gave, you were wrong.

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