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Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

picture of glass of water

Probably all but my very youngest readers have heard the question "Is the glass half full or half empty?" used as a sort of litmus test to determine the general outlook of a person. It is normally assumed that an optimist would say a glass is half full, while a pessimist would say it is half empty.

Gary Larson of the Far Side would say that that little test actually determines four basic personality types.

picture of glass test

I've compiled a list of the ways that people of different professions or walks of life might answer the question "Is the glass half full or half empty?"

The government would say that the glass is fuller than it would be if the opposition party were in power.

The opposition would say that it is irrelevant because the present administration has changed the way such volume statistics are collected.

The cynic wonders who drank the other half.

The worrier frets that the remaining half will evaporate by next morning.

The hostess would say that the glass is half empty, but the guest would say it's half full.

The husband would say to his wife, "Are you going to drink the rest of that?"

The philosopher would say that, if the glass were in the forest and no one was there to see it, would it be half anything?

The economist would say that, in real terms, the glass is 25% fuller than at the same time last year.

The banker would say that the glass has just under 50% of its net worth in liquid assets.

The entrepreneur would say the glass as undervalued by half its potential.

The psychiatrist would ask, "What did your mother say about the glass?"

The obsessive compulsive would postpone the question until the level is checked, and checked again, and again, and again....

The phobic would say, "Yuck! Someone drank out of it and left their germs on the glass!"

The algebraic simultaneous equation theorist would say that, if the glass is equally half full and half empty, then half full = half empty; therefore ½ x F = ½ x E; therefore (by multiplying both sides of the equation by 2) we show that F = E; therefore Full equals Empty!

The grammarian would say that, while the terms half-full and half-empty are colloquially acceptable, the glass can technically be neither since both full and empty are absolute states and are therefore incapable of being halved or modified in any way.

The engineer would say that the glass is twice the size it needs to be.

Here's one answer I found online (original source unknown):

picture of glass of water

Our cat Adelaide is crazy about water. (Well, actually she's just plain crazy! I posted about this in my most-viewed blog post called A Saturday not like All the Rest.) Anyway, she has her own water glass by our bathroom sink. Here's a picture of her drinking from it last evening.

picture of Adelaide and her glass of water

When my wife proofread this post, she said, "Adelaide would say, 'If the glass is full, I must drink half of it!'" 🙂

I'll end with a story of how one second grade math student answered a question about fractional glasses of water.

Tony drank 1/6 of a glass of water.
Emily drank 1/4 of a glass of water.
Emily drank more. Explain.

The child's teacher was so impressed with his answer that she later said, "It could be considered correct, I suppose."

His answer? "She was more thirsty."


How about you — are you a half-full glass or a half-empty glass type of person? Maybe you could come add to the list of how different people would answer the question "Is the glass half full or half empty?"


"God allows us to go through trials so that we'll look forward to heaven more." - Tom Wheeler

=^..^= =^..^=

The optimist sees the glass half full, the pessimist half empty. The realist drinks it.

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10 Comments on “Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?”

  1. #1 Nancy McGuire
    on Jan 20th, 2011 at 7:11 am

    Adelaide could be a sister to our Kitty Baby; how cute!

    Rob adds: She could be the twin to a cat we had when we first got married — Elsa — so named because she was free. If you look at pictures of Elsa doing her crazy antics, you would think it’s Adelaide doing them instead. Their markings, coloring, and personalities are so alike! I should scan some pictures and post them….

  2. #2 Gianni
    on Jan 20th, 2011 at 8:24 am

    As I usually say: there’s no half full glass nor half empty glass, you have only to finish to drink that glass!

    Rob adds: Good advice, Gianni! 🙂

  3. #3 Wayne Bateman
    on Jan 20th, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Our cat, a tuxedo appropriately named Sylvester, would also drink from the glass… after he has knocked it over.

    Rob adds: Love it, Wayne! Our other cat loves to play with water.

  4. #4 Diane Heeney
    on Jan 20th, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Our cat not only loves water, she loves the toothbrushes too…we discovered yesterday that her favorite is apparently our son’s. 😛

    Rob adds: I’m glad that our brushes are as of yet undiscovered and unappreciated … as far as we know…. :-/

  5. #5 Steve Coon
    on Jan 20th, 2011 at 10:17 am

    I am a “half-full” person to a fault — (overly optimistic, some say). However, I know a lady (I promised not to identify her on this topic anymore) of whom I am quite sure that her glass has a layer of dust in the bottom.

    Rob adds: Thanks for your comment, Steve. I can see you as a optimist. My optimism is almost maddening to some.

  6. #6 Peter
    on Jan 20th, 2011 at 10:27 am

    I guess for the Spirit-filled person, the cup is overflowing! (John 4:14; Ps. 23:5b) (limitless potential for spiritual entrepreneur)

    Rob adds: Good thoughts, Peter! Thanks for adding that perspective to this discussion.

  7. #7 Hannah Joy
    on Jan 20th, 2011 at 10:32 am

    My response – before I scrolled down – was that it’s half air and half water. That’s why I consider myself a realist!
    My mom’s cat LOVES to drink out of the bathroom sink. She used to come trotting in as soon as she heard me get up, and sit there begging. Now my mom’s decided to break her of the habit … good luck!

    Rob adds: Adelaide also likes to lick the bottom of the bathroom sink whenever water is run. We’re starting to wonder if she’s diabetic or something.

  8. #8 Caroline
    on Jan 20th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    i loved the Far Side cartoon. i think i would be like the last guy and look at the glass and think, “What does that have to do with anything?” and then proceed on with what i came for in the first place. 😛 only, i wouldn’t yell like he did…. at least i hope not!

    Rob adds: I feel confident that you wouldn’t yell like that, Caroline. 😀

  9. #9 Cheryl
    on Jan 21st, 2011 at 10:47 am

    I prefer to think of my glass is neither half full or half empty…it just has a slow leak.

    Rob adds: Cheryl, you need a new glass! 😀

  10. #10 b.j.
    on Jan 21st, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    One more: A brother would automatically assume you don’t want anymore, and empty the glass for you. 🙂

    Rob adds: Spoken as a true, understanding sister.