You say to a kid: "Drink [some] water" and he shakes his head. The following are possible responses. Which is the best?

  1. No drinking water?
  2. Not drink water?
  3. Not drinking water?
  4. No drink water?

I know that what has to follow after no and not, but with the situation above what would people usually start with, and also that after?

  • Your first words (You talk to a kid "drink water") are not a valid English sentence. Do you mean You ask a kid if he wants a drink of water, or You ask a kid for a drink of water, for example? – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica May 29 '15 at 16:44
  • You ask a kid to drink water. – Joe Kim May 29 '15 at 16:50
  • A native speaker would be unlikely to say the exact words "Drink water" as an imperative like that. The normal form would be "Drink some water". If you don't think the kid shaking his head is an unambiguous refusal, and you want to confirm what he means, you might follow up with "Are you sure you don't want some water?", but none of your suggestions are at all likely. If you do understand, but just wish to echo back the situation in the form of a question phrased as a statement, perhaps "You don't want to drink water? [Okay, how about some beer?]" – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica May 29 '15 at 16:57
  • #3 .... is a natural response – user6951 May 29 '15 at 17:28
  • @pazzo - only if you suspect the water source is not clean. Otherwise, none of them are appropriate responses, imo. – gone fishin' again. May 29 '15 at 19:50

Number 3 is correct and not all utterances require an overt subject and verb.

"Not drinking water?" is short for "[You are] not drinking water?"

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They're all incorrect, but for different reasons.

You could say, "You're not drinking?" or simply "No?"

Now, to explain why the four options you listed are wrong:

  1. "No drinking water?" sounds like a response to a statement about there being no available water to drink. 'Drinking' here is a participial adjective modifying 'water'.

  2. "Not drink water?" is a sentence fragment as it lacks a subject, and the verb tense is incorrect. If you add the implied subject, 'You', it reads: "You not drink water?" This is incorrect, and should take the participle for drink: "You are not drinking water?" Even then, while grammatically correct, it sounds idiomatically awkward. It would be better to say, "You're not drinking?"

  3. "Not drinking water?" is the closest to being correct, but wrong because it lacks a predicate (subject and verb). "You" + "are not" drinking water.

  4. "No drink water?" is incorrect. If you were to say, "You don't drink water?" it would be correct, but it has a different connotation. In other words, you are asking if the person doesn't drink water specifically, as opposed to other beverages.

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  • Thank you, andrewhl. But my question is which options I gave you above are appropriate, not that what possible responses I could come up with. – Joe Kim May 29 '15 at 16:53
  • I think what @andrewhl is saying is that the options presented in your question don't really make much sense. He's proposing alternatives. Maybe you could revise your original question to make it clearer what you're asking? – Kevin May 29 '15 at 17:03
  • I rewrote my response to more effectively answer your question. – andrewhl May 29 '15 at 17:05

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