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A is 178cm tall, and here is the conversation between A and B.

A: I am 180cm tall

B: yes/no, that’s nearly true.

Are both yes and no acceptable? If not, what does whether yes or no is suitable depend on?

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  • There is probably no difference in English and any other language. What would your answer be if this was posed in your language?
    – James K
    Mar 20 '21 at 9:07
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Well first of all "I am 180cm tall" is not a question, so you wouldn't expect B to say either "yes" or "no" in response.

Perhaps the context is a doctor's office, and A is being measured, and wants to know what the measurement is:

A: Am I 180cm tall?
B: Almost! You are 178cm tall.

B might say something like "Yeah, almost" or "Sort of" or even "No, not quite." But they probably wouldn't say "Yes" because they know that would be a direct lie.

(Of course, perhaps B's measuring tape is only accurate to within 5cm, or perhaps B wants to lie to A. In that case B might say "Yes, you are 180cm tall." But they would not say "Yes, you are 178cm tall" because that wasn't what A asked.)

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  • Almost is a synonym of not quite. Does that mean yes, (but) not quite is also acceptable?
    – user10928
    Mar 20 '21 at 2:34
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    @user10928 no, that would not be acceptable. "Yes, not quite" and "No, almost" sound strange because they combine an affirmative answer like "yes" or "almost" with a negative answer like "no" or "not quite." ("Almost" does not mean yes, but it carries more of a yes-implication than "not quite.")
    – randomhead
    Mar 20 '21 at 2:39

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