08 March 2024

Hello! This week on Ask a Teacher, we answer a question from Al.


Hi, hello


My name is Al from Indonesia. I am still not sure how to use the word "yet" in a sentence, positive or negative.

Would you like to inform us more about that?

Thank you very much.


Thank you for writing, Al.

We have talked about how to use the word "yet" in comparison to "already" and "still" in earlier Ask a Teacher articles. Now, let's talk about "yet" by itself.

"Yet" is almost always used as an adverb of time. It means from some time in the past until now. "Yet" is used in both positive and negative sentences.

Yes-No Questions

In spoken English, "yet" is often used in both yes or no questions. For example,

Have you heard from your boss yet?

Did you finish your homework yet?

We can ask these questions without "yet". Why use it then?

When we add "yet" to a question, we not only want to know if it happened, but we expect it to happen. And, we want it to happen.

We can use yet with negative questions, too. For example,

Have you not heard from your boss yet?

Have you not finished your homework yet?

Using a negative question expresses an even stronger expectation or desire, almost disbelief that something has not happened "yet!"


Most statements with "yet" are negative, especially in informal spoken language.

But you don't have to make a decision yet.

We are not there yet.

In these negative statements, "yet" expresses an expectation that it will happen at some point in the future.

We hope this explanation has helped you, Al.

Do you have a question about American English? Send us an email at learningenglish@voanews.com.

And that's Ask a Teacher.

I'm Gena Bennett.

Gena Bennett wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

positiveadj. in grammar, a positive sentence does not have any negative words

negativeadj. in grammar, a negative sentence shows that something cannot be the case, is not true or not happening