Are you or your father able to speak Japanese?

sb70012

Senior Member
Azerbaijani/Persian
Are you or your father able to speak Japanese? (Self made)

Hello teachers,

I made it by myself but I have some problem with it. In my opinion it's not a good sentence because Are doesn't fit with your father.
What do you think of the sentence? Is it Ok?

If it were : Are you and your father able to speak Japanese? On that time I think it works but I have some doubt about the upward sentence.


No Source / Self Made / Not much context
Many thanks in advance.
 
Last edited:
  • sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    Ok suppose that the subject is your father. But your father is third person singular. Is it really correct to use Are for
    Your father?
    That's what makes me confused.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    sb70012. We can't suppose that the subject is your father, because it is you or your father. If it was just your father it would be a different sentence and you wouldn't be thinking of using are.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Your father is third person singular; you and your father are second person plural. The verb use is quite normal - I admit 'or' makes me hesitate more than 'and' does, but I'd apply the same reasoning to both.
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    I know what Is and Are are used for. Just (or you) and (or your father) make me think about them much.

    Is your father or you ..... (I know it's correct but something makes me confused that your father and you both beside each other are counted plural then why we don't use Are?)

    Are you or your father .......
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Changing the word order doesn't make any difference to who or what is the subject of the question. Is your father or you is wrong, but you might hear somebody say it.
     

    VicNicSor

    Banned
    Russian
    I wonder, if I use third person singular only:
    Are your mother and your father able to speak Japanese?
    Is your mother or your father able to speak Japanese?
    is that correct?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think your versions are correct, VNS, but I would put it like this:

    Can your mother and father speak Japanese?
    Can your mother or your father speak Japanese?
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    My friends, I didn't receive my answer. Would you please tell me why: Is your father or you is incorrect?

    Thank you.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    You must give a complete sentence. Context is very important in this construction.

    "Is your father or you called James?" = "Which one of you is called James?"
    "Are you[,] or [is] your father[,] called James?" = Do either of you have the name James?"
     
    Last edited:

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    The deleted post earlier in the thread contained a lengthy quotation from a published source. The point made in the text (but not in the post) was that grammarians disagree. The sensible approach is to avoid using this construction - see post #12. Your sentence Is your father or you able to speak Japanese? is one that a native English speaker would be unlikely to use because of the difficulty of associating "is" with "you" - is you able to speak Japanese? I would say, as velisarius suggested Can you or your father speak Japanese? or Can your father or you speak Japanese? I would also point out that the word order you or your father comes far more naturally to me than your father or you.
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    Your sentence Is your father or you able to speak Japanese? is one that a native English speaker would be unlikely to use because of the difficulty of associating "is" with "you" - is you able to speak Japanese?
    Is your father or you able to speak Japanese? (you said: "there is a difficulty of association "is" with "you") Ok but:

    In this below sentence isn't there a difficulty of association "Are" with "your father" ?:confused:
    Are you or your father able to speak Japanese?
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    I have always been taught, and it seems most natural to me, that with disjunctive or, the verb agrees with the nearest part of the disjunction:

    Are (either) Jim's parents or his brother here?
    Is (either) Jim's brother or his parents here?
    I wonder whether (either) Jim's parents or his brother is here.
    I wonder whether (either) Jim's brother or his parents are here.

    Are (either) you or your father going to Japan?
    Is (either) your father or you going to Japan?
    I wonder whether (either) you or your father is going to Japan?
    I wonder whether (either) your father or you are going to Japan?
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    I have always been taught, and it seems most natural to me, that with disjunctive or, the verb agrees with the nearest part of the disjunction:

    Are (either) Jim's parents or his brother here?
    Is (either) Jim's brother or his parents here?
    I wonder whether (either) Jim's parents or his brother is here.
    I wonder whether (either) Jim's brother or his parents are here.

    Are (either) you or your father going to Japan?
    Is (either) your father or you going to Japan?
    I wonder whether (either) you or your father is going to Japan?
    I wonder whether (either) your father or you are going to Japan?
    Forero this was very helpful, thanks. I wish you also had a link or source for it.
    Then according to these sentences, these two are correct right?

    Are you or your father able to speak Japanese?
    Is your father or you able to speak Japanese?

    Right?:confused:
     

    dubitans

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    Forero's explanation that with disjunctive or, the verb agrees with the nearest part of the disjunction is correct.
    Besides the disjunctive or (either - or, strictly one of two, Latin aut), there is also the conjunctive or (and/or, one of two or both, Latin vel). (Some grammarians call the conjunctive or an inclusive disjunctive.) With conjunctive or, I find the plural form more natural: Are your father or you able to speak Japanese?
     
    Last edited:

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    Forero's explanation that with disjunctive or, the verb agrees with the nearest part of the disjunction is correct.
    Besides the disjunctive or (either - or, strictly one of two, Latin aut), there is also the conjunctive or (and/or, one of two or both, Latin vel). (Some grammarians call the conjunctive or an inclusive disjunctive). With conjunctive or, I find both singular and plural acceptable.
    So, my previous two questions are correct right? :confused:

    Are you or your father able to speak Japanese?
    Is your father or you able to speak Japanese?
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top