How to answer: Do you mind if I sit down?

Recently, I visited a friend of mine. This friend is not a native English speaker.

It was my first time to visit their house and when I arrived, they were busy in the kitchen. They asked me to wait for a moment. That was fine.

I asked them, “Do you mind if I sit down?”

They answered, “Yes.”

This confused me, because their answer means “Yes, I do mind!”, which means “You cannot sit down!”

Actually, they wanted to say that it was okay for me to sit down. So what happened? Why did they make this mistake?

Actually, questions using  do you mind …?often confuse English students:


Let’s take a look:

do you mind = do you think it is a problem

“Do you mind if I sit down?” = “Do you think it is a problem if I sit down?”

“Yes, I mind (if you sit down)” = “Yes, it is a problem if you sit down.”

“No, I don’t mind (if you sit down)” = “No, it is not a problem if you sit down.”


So if someone asks:

Do you mind if I turn on the TV?

You should answer:

Yes, I do
(this means DON’T turn on the TV)
No, I don’t (this means GO AHEAD and turn on the TV)

I explained this to my friend and he then said he didn’t mind if I sat down! I was happy!


How would you answer the following:

1) You are staying with a family in Australia. You want to go out with some friends tonight.

You ask them: “Do you mind if I come home late tonight?”
They answer: “Yes.”

What does their answer mean? Is it okay for you to go out or not?

2) You live with a room mate.

Your room mate asks: “Do you mind if I smoke?”

But, you HATE smoking. What would you say? “Yes” or “No”

3) Your friend asks you: “Do you mind if I borrow $100?”

What would you answer? Explain why you agree or do not agree to lend them the money.

41 thoughts on “How to answer: Do you mind if I sit down?”

  1. 1 yes there is a problem if I come out late
    2 I’ll say “yes” I can’t stand smoke
    3 if they have need money for a good reason, why not,
    in the past I’ve lent money to some friends,obviously, in accordance with my possibility.

    1. Great work Roberta!
      Some feedback on your writing:
      1 yes there is a problem if I STAY out late
      2 PERFECT!
      3 if they have need money for a good reason, why not,
      in the past I’ve lent money to some friends,obviously, ACCORDING TO WHAT I HAVE.

  2. 1. It mean “They’ll mind if i come late to home”.They having problem with that.

    2.Yes, do mind if u smoke in room.

    3.No, don’t mind. I agree because he is asking for some emergency reason.

    Please check my answer and correct them.
    waiting for your reply Mr.John.

    1. Good work Divya

      “They’ll mind if I come home late”
      Don’t forget the pronoun ‘I’ and ‘you’

      Do YOU mind if I smoke?
      No I don’t mind

  3. 1.) Yes,I mind.It is a problem if you come home late because every one is sleeping and I am afraid no one open the door for you.
    2.)Yes,I really mind.I am sorry because I have a sensitive nose.
    3.)No, I don’t.Here you are!
    I think maybe this is something due with the culture different.As I know Chinese people usually ask question very direct eg: Can I sit down, Can you help me, any one one sitting here?It is very rare they will ask “do you mind….can you do me a favor”??

    One very recently case I heard from a friend, there was a western young lady come in for some enquiries and after enquiries she wanted to get her things fix and she found an empty chair next to a friend of mine and she asked do you mind I sit down and my friend reply is “no” then she left.I friend was very shocked because she meant nobody sitting next to her but the lady got another meaning.

    1. Ha ha! Yes Pink, I am sure the lady was surprised when your friend said ‘no’! She probably thought she wasn’t very friendly! Culture is an interesting thing!

      Some feedback:

      1.) Yes,I mind.It is a problem if you come home late because every one is will be sleeping and I am afraid no one will open the door for you.

    1. 1. it means that it is not okay for them to go out at night.
      2. yes, i do. you cant smoke here inside the room because i hate smoking, if you want you can smoke outside.
      3. no, i dont. just promise me that you are going to return it next week because that is intended for my tuition fee.

      John, please correct me if there are grammatical errors. thank you

      1. Hi Agnes
        Great answers! You have answered them all correctly!
        Some feedback:
        It means that it is not okay for them to go out tonight.
        No, I dont. Just promise me that you will return it next week because I need it to pay my tuition fees.

        1. Thank you John for another learning experience with you. Looking forward to learning more lessons from you. Keep it up!

  4. Hi John,
    I answer to the questions you asked above.

    1) It doesn’t necessarily mean that it is NOT OK for me to go out.
    They might think that It is OK for me to go out but not for so long.

    2) I would say “YES.” If you want to smoke, why don’t you go outside and smoke?

    3) Well, this is a very difficult question. It depends what kind of friend is asking me for the money. If the friend was my best friend in Australia, I would definitely say “YES” but probably ask why she needs that amount of money.
    And I would also make sure if she can return the money back to me.
    I wouldn’t like to make our relationship worse because of the money.
    I usually don’t lend money to friends. So If I would, it is going to be a very special case.

    1. Hi Mutsuko
      1) Yes, that is right! They don’t mind you going out, just they do not want you to come back too late.
      2) great response!
      3) Remember – “Do you mind if I borrow $100?” – “Yes”
      This means you don’t want to lend them the money. So to your friend you might say ” No, I don’t mind, but what is going on? what do you need it for?”

  5. Thanks for the tips. But somehow while I was watching a movie and there were few lines that confused me. One ask “You mind if I come in?” and the other said “Yeah, sure.”. The result is the other want the one to come in. Could you help me to explain that, thank you!

    1. Hi Zhen

      That is an excellent question! The answer is that many people do not speak using correct grammar. In this situation the correct grammar would be:

      A: Do you mind if I come in?
      B: No.

      But many native English speakers do not use correct grammar. This is because language is ‘alive’ – people use it however they like! Language also changes over time too.

      I am sure it is the same in your native language too – people don’t speak correct grammar all the time, especially when using slang.

      Am I right?

      Hope this helps!


      1. Thanks for the answer even though it sounds like the question becomes even more complicated :) Sure thing about the alive language and my mother tongue Chinese is much more difficult to learn for foreigners.

  6. I’m not a native and i just realized i would answer ‘yes’ to any ‘do you mind’ question.
    Like if i don’t like if my friend to smoke and he asks “do you mind?” i would answer “actually yes.”
    And if somebody asks “do you mind if i sit down?” i really don’t mind that i would spontaneously answer “yes!”

  7. hello John, this is very good job you’ve done. i’ ve just discovered your site. i can write english but when i try to speak, the fist is caming in my mind is my tong language and i make a mess when i am speaking.

  8. 1) It means it’s not okay for you to go out.
    2) I will say “No.” Because if I say “Yes,” it’s excuse for my room mate. So, I will say “No” and I will go outside while my room mate is smoking.
    3) If it’s my best friend and I trust my friend, I say “No.” But it’s just my friend, I say”Yes.”

    1. Great answers Yumi! They are all correct, except number 1 – Number one means you can still go out, but you shouldn’t come home late.

      Keep up the great work!

  9. Hi John!
    I was just wondering that once my friend asked me that “Do you mind if i borrow a pencil?”, and then I said “Sure!”, and she took it. I didnt really know what to say so I just said sure.So what does sure mean in this situation?
    Please reply soon!
    Your Awsome :)

    1. Good question!
      As I am sure your know ‘sure’ = ‘yes / OK’

      In spoken English many people will answer the same as you did. This is because most people do not speak using correct grammar.

      So, actually you answer was grammatically incorrect, but you communicated clearly with your friend – and that is the goal in any language: Make sure the other person understands you.

      Being understood is the most important thing, in my opinion.

  10. Ya, one more thing John, once when i was in grade 2, my teacher asked me a do you mind question(i cant remember what it was) and then i think i said yes and then she was surprised(she thought that i said yes i do mind) so what did i say; yes or no?

    1. Hi Veronica

      The best way to remember is:
      ‘Do you mind’ -> No I don’t mind (you can do it), or, Yes I do mind (don’t do it).

    1. Hi Emzemz

      Yes, “Would you mind if I sat down?”

      is the same in meaning as:

      “Do you mind if I sit down?”

      NOTICE: There is a change in tense with the word ‘sit’ and ‘sat’.

  11. john thank you so much i have enjoyed the lession so much but the reason i came to this webside was that one comedian on tv said he travelled to America and was invited to dinner so where he sat a lady came to serve him then the lady asked him do you mind for a starter then he said yes and the lady took the food away then the second round the lady brought rice and chicken and asked him gentileman do you care for the man said no and the lady took the food away and the man was confuse because of misunderstandig and i was also confused but when i came to this webside i got the differencr . so thank you alot

  12. What if you want to get a number from a girl and then you asked her”would you mind to be my phone pal?”And then she replied ”NO” does this mean she has accepted?

    1. Hi Jackson. I love your question! Did that happen to you? I hope not 😉

      From what you have told me, it sounds like she was not accepting your offer. To know for sure, I would need to hear her voice and see her face. Did she look happy and smile when she spoke, or did she look a little surprised? What happened next? Did she turn away, so that she was not facing you?

      In real life many native speakers do not always use the correct English grammar.

      Let me know more about what happened!

      All the best my friend.


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