When I edited an earlier question I wasn't sure whether to completely change the "A" form into the "B" form:

A. How do the below three sentences differ in their meaning and which one has the answer 'yes'?

B. How do the below three sentences differ in their meaning and which one is affirmatively answerable?

Since I suppose both are grammatical, I wonder which one, "A" or "B", sounds more natural English? If none of the above sounds natural, what is the reason?

  • 3
    Neither one sounds natural to me. I'd rewrite the first as: A. How do the three sentences below differ in meaning, and which can be answered with 'yes'? The B version is weird.
    – user264
    Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 14:39
  • 2
    I can't explain why affirmatively answerable sounds weird. Answerable in the affirmative sounds a little better, at least to me, but I like Bill Franke's version best.
    – user230
    Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 19:44
  • 2
    @snailplane- I think it's because affirmatively answerable can mean I can affirm that it is answerable which says nothing about whether it is answerable with a yes or a no.
    – Jim
    Commented Mar 3, 2013 at 23:28
  • Even "answerable in the affirmative" is different than "has the answer 'yes'". If the first example is "MUST be yes" rather than "CAN be yes" then that is also going to be a problem on a test because it is ambiguous.
    – horatio
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 17:22

1 Answer 1


In common speech, you would be much more likely to hear (A) than (B).

It generally feels more natural in English to use the "shorter" / "simpler" version of a phrase, for example people would more likely say "This is hard" than "This is overly difficult and complex."

While the two phrases might not technically mean exactly the same thing, they are very close and would practically be used interchangeably except in a very technical or scientific environment.

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