Born in France or [in] Italy

Albert Schlef

Senior Member
Hebrew
If I remember correctly, in English you don't repeat a preposition. So you need to say "He was born in France or Italy" instead of "He was born in France or in Italy". Is my understanding correct? Or is the latter sentence too grammatically correct?

But what about questions? if I ask "Was he born in France or Italy?", how ought the askee to understand this question? Is he supposed to understand that I'm asking whether he was born in one of these countries (that is, that I'm expecting a Yes/No answer), or is he supposed to understand that I'm asking in which of the two countries he was born? And "Was he born in France or in Italy?" grammatically correct?

(BTW, how do you say "askee" in English? That is, the opposite of "asker"?)
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    You don't need to repeat the preposition, but both version of the statement are correct.

    Repeating the preposition in the question makes it clear that he was born in France, or he was born in Italy, and you want to know which one. Normally, the question without the preposition would be understood that way too, but it is technically ambiguous in writing. In speech, the two question meanings are distinguished by intonation:

    Was he born /in France or \(in) Italy? - rising phrase then falling phrase: was it /France, or was it \Italy?
    Was he born /in France or Italy? - one continued rising phrase: was it France~Italy, or was it some other place?

    A more realistic example is:

    Do you want /tea or \coffee? - you want one of them: which is it?
    Do you want /tea or coffee? - do you want a drink, yes or no?
     

    Mahantongo

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    If I remember correctly, in English you don't repeat a preposition. So you need to say "He was born in France or Italy" instead of "He was born in France or in Italy". Is my understanding correct? Or is the latter sentence too grammatically correct?
    As entagledbank noted, there is absolutely no "rule" in English that forbids repeating a preposition. You may certainly repeat a preposition, and for stylistic reasons may in fact prefer to do that. For example, suppose there were a political party called the Schlefites who were holding a convention, and a newspaper were describing it. You might very well read the following:
    Enthusiastic Schlefites began to pour into town. They came from New York and from California; from small towns and from big cities. They came by plane and by car, on horseback and on foot. There were rich Schlefites in mink coats, and poor Schlefites in blue jeans. Some came with expensive Gucci suitcases, some with cheap backpacks, and some with no luggage at all.

     
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