Taking the square root always yields a positive and negative answer. Why is this the case?
Example:
root {9} = -3 and 3.
The square root function only yields one answer $\displaystyle \sqrt{x^2}=|x|$.
But there are two numbers that have a square equal to $\displaystyle x^2$. Namely $\displaystyle x$ and $\displaystyle -x$. So the reverse operation to squaring has two possible results.
In your particular case $\displaystyle 3^2=(-3)^2=9$.
Both -3 and 3 are square roots of 9. The operator/function $\sqrt{.}$ is defined to return the non-negative square root of its argument (or the principle value if complex)
There is no context to consider. You are being asked straight-up for value(s) of $\displaystyle \ \ 9^{1/2}.$
Look at these steps worked out here at:
www.quickmath.com
Type: 9^(1/2)
Then click "Simplify" and look at the steps.