My Chinese book has this:

丁波: 她家离学校是不是不太远? 阿里: 对。 她家就在学校附近。 你怎么知道?

This says:

丁波: 她家离学校是不是不太远?
(Dīng bō: Tā jiā lí xuéxiào shì bùshì bù tài yuǎn?)

阿里: 对。 她家就在学校附近。 你怎么知道?
(Ālǐ: Duì. Tā jiā jiù zài xuéxiào fùjìn. Nǐ zěnme zhīdào?)

This confuses me, as I thought it is incorrect to respond ("correct") to a 是不是 question. I.e., one should reply or 不是 (or ), or even possibly 是的 or 不是的. But maybe I'm wrong about this (or maybe this is a bug in the book).

Question: Is it incorrect to answer a 是不是 question with 对 or 不对?

  • It's fine. The meaning is the same. The rule is not so strict especially for spoken language.
    – user4072
    Oct 7 '17 at 7:40
  • 1
    OP confuses me, now I am not sure should I answer this question with yes or no, you can answer 是不是 with 对 or 不对. 1. Yes, It's incorrect 2. Yes, It is correct. 2. No, it is incorrect. 3. No, it is correct. Somebody help me.
    – wolfrevo
    Oct 7 '17 at 9:34
  • "外国人实用汉语语法":alternative Q,正反疑问句,e。g。你来不来?地上湿不湿?你们的看法一致不一致?他看没看? 回答时用肯定式或否定式都可以。例如:你打不打羽毛球?打。不打。明天上午你有时间没有?有。没有。As complete answer 对 begs the Q, what is correct/对? If 是不是 is omitted from Q and 吗 put at the end (resulting in 用语气助词"吗"构成的疑问句), then answer would be valid. As below answer suggests 是不是 should not be taken seriously, in which case A may be acceptable.
    – user6065
    Oct 7 '17 at 12:34
  • it may be a matter of not distinguishing between 是 (yes) and 对 (correct),there are 2 relevant types of questions: 是非 q (吗 q) and 正反,the former can be answered by "对","是的" or "对了", for the latter see comment #3, 这种疑问句主要是由谓语的肯定形式和否定形式并列起来构成的,the 2 alternatives -不- generally occur at the end,except for 是不是 which can occur inside (as in present case), alternative q can also end in "对不对",in which case "对" again is a possible answer (jukuu has 100 samples).
    – user6065
    Oct 7 '17 at 20:24

阿里 took 丁波's question "她家离学校是不是不太远?" (Is her home not too far from school?) as a rhetorical question-- a statement await confirmation.

阿里 presumed 丁波 knew the girl's house was near by the school. Therefore, he replied "对" to confirm 丁波's statement was correct.

If it was a real question that 丁波 did not know the answer, the reply of '是不是' should be either '是' or '不是'


"她家离学校是远还是不远?" (She wants to know is the girl's house far away from school or near by it)

Then the answer should be either "是很远" or "不是很远"

As for why 阿里 presumed 丁波 knew the girl's house was near by the school, it could be some indication in 丁波's earlier statement,

For example:

丁波: "She told me that she always go home for lunch, but the school lunch time is only one hour, is her house not far from school?"

From the details in the question, we know "is her house not far from school?" is a rhetorical question.

阿里 can then replies : "是"(yes), "她家离学校不是太远" or "对" (correct), "她家离学校不是太远."

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