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In an English grammar book, it says one of the possible answers to:

"Would you mind opening the door?"

is:

"Certainly."

I feel that it means "Yes, I certainly mind", which is unlikely to be
an appropriate response. Is that book wrong?
Thanks.
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Comments  
Yeah, you could suggest that - the book is not actually wrong though:

While asking this way, the "mind" often just represents a flowery phrase to let it sound more polite.
If someone answers with "certainly" in this case, it is correct to assume that he "would mind opening the door", that's what it grammatically expresses - but people usually understand this as a question similar to "Would you open the door, please?" and to this sentence, they would surely answer "Certainly".

It's just a matter of incorrect usage in these cases, which are generally accepted.
It's quite the same very often with the usage of the double negative.
Thanks for your answer.
But if "certainly" can be accepted as an answer, will native English speakers accept
"yes" too? i.e.

A: Would you mind opening the door?
B: Yes. (to indicate "I don't mind")

If so, it would mean I can answer both "no" and "yes" to indicate a positive
response.
Thanks.
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Indeed, you can say either yes or no! Both mean "OK I will open the door"

Positive responses are more usual as that responds to the meaning of the utterance, where as negative utterances relate more to the surface structure! As you see it is therefore impossible to REFUSE!!!

Therein lies a secret of power - manipulating people into compliance by appearing to be very polite!

I disagree with the person who said this is "incorrect" usage - that only appleis if you think structure is more important than pragmatics!
That's interesting! I guess Englishmen are very nice people who hate refusing
others' requests.

It's in fact very different from my mother tongue, Chinese, which has a
similar way of making requests (e.g. Would you mind opening the door?).
But if the answer is YES, it means YES, I MIND, hence a negative response.

I wonder if any other language works similar to English.
@suzi:
"I disagree with the person who said this is "incorrect" usage - that only appleis if you think structure is more important than pragmatics!"

I just referred to incorrect structure here - or sooner to the "logical" obstacle in the sentence.

Neither do I think that structure is more important than pragmatics -
Structure and pragmatics are two subjects of their own which have to be handled separately. Emotion: smile
Idiomatic expressions e.g. seldom follow (structural) rules but work perfectly well.
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