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

Discussion in 'English Only' started by SuprunP, Jul 19, 2015.

  1. SuprunP

    SuprunP Senior Member

    Ukrainian & Russian
    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?

  2. quillerbee Senior Member

    Canadian English
    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?
  3. Glasguensis

    Glasguensis Signal Modulation

    English - Scotland
    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"
  4. DonnyB

    DonnyB Sixties Mod

    Coventry, UK
    English UK Southern Standard English
    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.
  5. quillerbee Senior Member

    Canadian English
    I meant yes you got it right about expanding (2) but I agree with Glas you are mistaken on (1).
  6. SuprunP

    SuprunP Senior Member

    Ukrainian & Russian
    Thank you everyone!

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