- Did you play football or go for a walk? - No.

SuprunP

Senior Member
Ukrainian & Russian
#1
13.47
Note
In similar questions containing or, there is an ambiguity, signalled by intonation, between interpretation as an ordinary yes-no question and as an alternative question (cf 11.20-21):

Did you [play football] or [go for a WALK]? (1)
Did you [play FOOTball] or [go for a WALK]? (2)


Only in the latter case can the sentence be expanded into a coordination of two complete clauses:
[Did you play FOOTball] or [did you go for a WALK]?

(A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language; R. Quirk)

Would you be so kind as to tell me whether I have understood it correctly that if (1) is answered yes it means one went for a walk and if the answer is no it means one played football?

Thanks.
 
  • quillerbee

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    #2
    Yes, I think you got it.

    (1) is asking whether you got off your bottom and did something active with your time.

    (2) is asking, what exactly did you do?
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    #3
    No. If you answer "Yes" to question 1 it means that you either went for a walk or played football. If you answer "No" it means that you did neither. But in everyday speech you would not usually answer like this, you would say "Yes, we played football", or "No, we just watched TV"
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    #4
    The way I see it, unless you say "neither", a yes/no answer to either question is going to be ambiguous. :confused:

    I'd expect the answer to elaborate specifically on what the person actually did do.
     
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