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When answering a negative question with あまり, it will normally be the positive (by japanese rules). For example:

person A: 彼に来ないで欲しいですか?
person B: あまり

By literal translation, person A is asking person B, "Do you want him not to come". And person B reply when translated to english means "not really". In other words, person B (somewhat) wants him to come. Since the question is negative and the answer is also negative. This holds when following basic japanese rules. But I get the impression that person B あまり might also mean "あまり来ないで欲しい" which means "I do NOT want him to come". The question is, when one answers a negative question with あまり, does it mean the former "I WANT him to come" or does it mean the latter "I do NOT want him to come"

  • "In other words, person B (somewhat) wants him to come." <- As a native English speaker I would not interpret 'not really' like this. It means that you really don't want the person to come, but that you would tolerate it if they did come. – user3856370 Feb 23 at 8:29
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person A: 彼に来ないで欲しいですか? person B: あまり

By literal translation, person A is asking person B, "Do you want him not to come". And person B reply when translated to english means "not really".

Yes, that is right. あまり usually goes with negative verbs so the meaning of this dialogue is that person B doesn't want him to come.

The question is, when one answers a negative question with あまり, does it mean the former "I WANT him to come" or does it mean the latter "I do NOT want him to come"

It means the latter.

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  • Ended up asking a japanese native directly and was told that it depends on the situation. In other words, it can really mean either – Newbie Feb 24 at 7:13
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あまり is an adverb to mean a “little” or “not very” with a negative.

来ないで欲しい I don’t want him to come

あまり来ないで欲しい I don’t really want him to come

It’s softer than a plain negative sentence but is also used in the opposite way とても for “very”

寿司を好き I like sushi

寿司をとても好き I really like Sushi

寿司を好きじゃない I don’t like Sushi

寿司をあまり好きじゃない I don’t like sushi very much

寿司を全然好きじゃあない I don’t like sushi at all

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  • Usually すき takes the が particle so 寿司が好き would be more normal. – Ben Feb 27 at 9:35

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