It isn't working?

Date Published: 12 December 2007

It isn't working?

My wife hates me because of this, and my co-workers are learning to consider their question phrasing carefully if they want to be able to understand the answer, because I have this annoying tendency to answer questions as they are given. For example, yesterday our designer asked me a question in the negative, something to the effect of, "It's not fixed yet?". My answer was "yes", which left him momentarily confused, because due to the succinct nature of my response and the fact that it wasn't agreeably negative like the question had been, it almost seemed as if my positive response was going against what he had just said. When in fact I was confirming that yes, in fact, "it's not fixed yet."

I'm not sure if this crosses cultures or not, but I see this a lot in English, in America:

"You're not going to the show?"


"Why not"

"I'm busy…"

This exchange is what people have grown accustomed to, but it causes confusion because the answer given is actually the opposite of the one meant (something normally called sarcasm, but in this case that's not what's going on). The correct answer, of course, would be something like this:

"You're not going to the show?"

"Yes. (Yes, I'm not going.)"


Maybe I'm just pedantic, or maybe it's because I have to write in a language that a machine can understand, so all day long I'm working with things like (if you're not familiar with this code style, "!" means "not"):



if(!Busy) { IsGoingToShow = true; }

I'm sure many other coders and students of logic and/or English would agree with my approach.

Steve Smith

About Ardalis

Software Architect

Steve is an experienced software architect and trainer, focusing on code quality and Domain-Driven Design with .NET.