Lesson: Understanding “Oui, Non, Si” in French Responses


Welcome to our lesson on the French responses “oui,” “non,” and “si.” Unlike English, which primarily uses “yes” and “no” for positive and negative responses, French includes a third option, “si,” used in specific contexts. This lesson will explore how and when to use these responses accurately in French conversations.

Part 1: “Oui” and “Non”

“Oui” (Yes)

Oui” is used to affirmatively answer a question or statement. It’s the direct counterpart of the English “yes.”


  • Aimes-tu le chocolat ?      Do you like chocolate?
  • Oui, j’aime le chocolat.    Yes, I like chocolate.

“Non” (No)

The word “non” is used in French to respond negatively to any question, whether the question is phrased positively or negatively. It straightforwardly indicates disagreement or a negative answer, similar to “no” in English. The key thing to remember is that “non” unequivocally negates the action or statement being inquired about.


  • It directly negates a positive question:
    • Question: Est-ce que tu aimes le fromage ? (Do you like cheese?)
    • Response: Non, je n’aime pas le fromage. (No, I do not like cheese.
  • It also negates a negative question, maintaining the negative response without contradiction:
    • Question: Tu n’aimes pas le café ?          You don’t like coffee?
    • Response: Non, je n’aime pas le café.    No, I don’t like coffee.

In the second example, even though the question is phrased negatively, using “non” still provides a negative response, confirming that the speaker does not like coffee. It’s essential to understand that “non” always maintains its negative stance, irrespective of the question’s phrasing. This differs from the specific use of “si” to contradict a negative question with a positive answer, highlighting the nuanced ways of expressing agreement or disagreement in French.

Part 2: “Si” – The Unique French Response

“Si” (Yes in Contradiction)

“Si” is uniquely French and used to contradict a negative question or statement. English lacks a direct equivalent, often using “yes” in these situations, but French distinguishes this case with “si.”


  • Tu n’aimes pas le café ?           You don’t like coffee?
  • Si, j’aime le café.                         Yes, I do like coffee.

The use of “si” emphasizes the contradiction to the assumption made in the negative question.

Part 3: Using “Si” in Conversations

Importance of “Si”

Understanding when to use “si” is crucial for clear communication in French. It highlights your disagreement with a negative presumption or question, providing a nuanced way to express your response.

Common Mistakes

A common mistake among learners is to use “oui” instead of “si” to answer negative questions, which can cause confusion about whether you’re agreeing or disagreeing with the statement.


Exercise 1: Choose the Correct Response

Choose “oui,” “non,” or “si” for each question:

  1. Tu n’es pas prêt, n’est-ce pas ?       You are not ready, are you?
  2. Tu aimes les films d’horreur ?         Do you like horror movies?
  3. Tu ne veux pas de dessert ?             You don’t want dessert?
  1. Tu n’es pas prêt, n’est-ce pas ?       Si, je suis prêt.  / Non, je ne suis pas prêt.
  2. Tu aimes les films d’horreur ?        Oui, j’aime les films d’horreur. / Non, je n’aime pas les films d’horreur.
  3. Tu ne veux pas de dessert ?           Si, je veux un dessert. / Non, je ne veux pas de dessert.

Exercise 2: Translate and Respond

Translate the following sentences to French and choose the appropriate response (“oui,” “non,” “si”):

  1. You don’t play tennis, do you? (Response: But I do play tennis.)
  2. Do you study French? (Response: Yes.)
  3. You aren’t coming to the party? (Response: No, I am coming.)
  1. Si, je joue au tennis.
  2. Oui, j’étudie le français.
  3. Si, je viens à la fête.

Understanding and using “oui,” “non,” and “si” correctly will significantly improve your ability to communicate nuanced responses in French. Practice regularly to master these essential aspects of French conversation!

# French oui non si