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I am not sure what the response to the following question would be.


I am thinking it might be


but then again with the sentence


I thought I remember the response being


for I would like something to drink.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

From The Structure of The Japanese Language, Susumu Kuno (1980, p. 274-278)

The words in parenthesis and the bolding are my additions.

What is at issue here is not the presence or absence of the syntactic negative but the presence or absence of the semantic negative in questions. In other words, the deciding factor here is whether the questioner is expecting a negative answer or not from the hearer.

The issue, then, is whether, given a negative question, there are any syntactic clues to distinguish a semantically neutral question from one that contains the questioner's expectation of a positive answer.

Q: 何も買いませんでしたか。(without expectation of positive answer)
A1: はい、何も買いませんでした。
A2: いいえ、本を買いました。

Q: 何か買いませんでしたか。(with expectation of positive answer)
A1: はい、本を買いました

When a question involves the ...no/n desu 'it is that ...' pattern, it appears to be a neutral question if the negative is in the clause preceding no/n, but a question with the expectation of a positive answer if the desu is negated.

Q: 行かかったのですか。(without expectation of positive answer)
A1: はい、行かなかったのです。
A2: いいえ、行きましたよ。

Q: 行ったのではありませんか。(with expectation of positive answer)
A1: はい、行きましたよ。
A2: いいえ、行かなかったのです。

Your question ends with ~のではないか。 It is a case of a のです pattern with the negation in the です instead of in the clause preceding の・ん.

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Different than in English, negative questions are agreed to with はい and denied with いいえ. However, the ~ませんか and ~ないか are different. はい would literally mean that sportsmanship is not being lost in the Olympics, but you want to agree and say it is being lost.

Although I think that


would get your point across, はい alone would be somewhat unclear.


is always best for showing your agreement with the speaker (and そうですか your doubts, viz. disagreement).

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