Is it possible and grammatically correct to use negative short answers without contraction?

Eg: Are you hungry? No, I am not!

If OK, is it considered more formal then?

3 Answers 3


Yes it can be formal and it is correct. This doesn't mean that this answer without contraction is impossible in less formal contexts. It can also be used for emphasis. Imagine an excessively caring mother asks her daughter for the 10th time literally in the last hour:

Are you hungry?

Exasperated, the daughter can shout back

No, I am not!

Stressing not to express how fed up she became.

  • 2
    Simply using more formal language can emphasize a statement in an informal context. A related thing is that when the mother is exasperated by her daughter's behavior she may use all of the daughter's names in full to address her. "Allison Elizabeth Rose! How many times have I told you not to do that?"
    – David K
    Aug 21, 2021 at 13:44

If we assume the context to be that A and B are sitting in a room, then:

A: Are you hungry?

B: No, I am not! - with the exclamation mark, this would indicate that B is annoyed by the question.

B1: No, I am not. - without the exclamation mark, as you say, this is the formal answer - it is quite rare.

B2: No. - This is the normal answer.

B3: No, I'm not - this indicates that there is perhaps something else wrong with B and B may tell A about it.

The tone of the voice will also make a difference.

  • 3
    I know that people vary, but if I said just "No" to my dear partner, she would wonder if I was being curt because something was wrong. I would probably elongate he utterance with something like 'not really' or 'not especially'. Many people find monosyllabic or very short answers unfriendly. Aug 20, 2021 at 17:49
  • @MichaelHarvey - you will have to spend time honing your tone of voice. :)
    – user81561
    Aug 20, 2021 at 18:34
  • Tone of voice is invisible in written communication, so it's even more important to go out of your way to avoid seeming curt or rude in that context. By this I mean if you actually care about being perceived as rude.
    – barbecue
    Aug 21, 2021 at 17:56

Yes, the is perfectly grammatical. Not using contractions tends to come across as more formal. As other answers have mentioned, it can also be used for emphasis. Besides being used to emphasize "not", it is necessary to separate "I" and "am" to emphasize one of them.

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