What are alternative questions in English?

How to ask a question in English? It seems that it is very simple, but beginners do not always cope with this task. The fact is that it is not enough to understand what you need to ask about, it is still necessary to correctly do this from the point of view of grammar. In fact, this is not so difficult if you understand the general principles of constructing interrogative sentences.


In English, several types of questions are traditionally distinguished.

  • Common. The answer to it will be consent or refusal. Reverse word order:Do you work in the office?
  • Special. In this case, interrogative wh-words are used.Where do you work?
  • Separating. In this case, the sentence is divided into two parts: statement + question. Sometimes this type is also called "with a tail". When you translate the ending, as a rule, they convey the turnover "do not you?":You work in the office, do not you?
  • Indirect. This type has a special structure. In it the direct order of words, and he himself is considered a more polite and formal form of communication:I wonder if you work in the office.
  • Alternative. Finally, this type implies the choice between two or more, usually mutually exclusive possibilities:Do you work in the office or at home?

It is an alternative type of question today that willconsidered in more detail. In the English language course, it is rarely emphasized, and even in such a seemingly simple design it is not so difficult to make mistakes. And although this does not happen so often, knowing some of the subtleties of foreign speech is interesting and useful - in the future it increases the level of language proficiency, which makes it possible to speak it as well as its speakers do.

Features of the alternative type

We often have to make a choice oroffer it to others. As is clear from their name, alternative questions in English bear this function. As a rule, they contain two components, that is, there are two roughly equivalent possibilities to choose from.

alternative questions in EnglishLike almost all other issues, this kind of inherent reverse order of words, that is, the subject comes after the predicate or verb-bundle. By the way,
sometimes there are designs that combine the characteristics of several types.What do you like: tea or coffee?

To connect alternative questions in English can be both additions and complex grammatical constructions with a predicate:Do you prefer playing the piano or reading books?In any case, the proposal will contain an allianceor.

The unequivocal answer "yes" or "no" in this case is not applicable. This is the difference of this type. The response replica must be grammatically complete. In colloquial speech, it is possible to say simply"Reading books", although this will not be correct.

As for the use of construction in oral speech, alternative questions in the English language have a well-established pattern of intonation coloring. Traditionally beforeorthe voice is raised, sometimes placing an emphasis on the union itself and the second part, and at the end of the sentence, and especially on the last stressed syllable, the tone goes down.


As it became clear, alternative issues in theEnglish are built on the principles of the general, but link several options, one of which will serve as a possible response. As a rule, the second part is incomplete, since a complex construction with a common predicate is omitted.

His scheme is approximately this:

Binding verb + subject + predicate + variant 1 or variant 2?

alternative questions english

As a response, you can apply the sentence according to the following scheme:

Subject + predicate + option 1 (2).

If both of the proposed possibilities are not suitable, then the reaction will be:

None of it + subject + predicate + variant 3.

To construct alternative questions in English it is possible and to the subject. This version sounds somewhat strange, but grammatically remains true:

Bundle + subject 1 + predicate + or auxiliary verb + predicate 2?


Do you drive the car or does your husband?

Is Ann here or is Jenny?

The main thing in this case is not to forget about the auxiliary verb before the second subject. The answer to the question of such a construction can be brief:

My husband does.

Ann is.

The study of the theory can be extremelya fascinating affair, but the study of language is impossible without a constant and varied practice. The same applies to the development of the topic "alternative issues". English language offers a large number of options for the transmission of a particular thought, but what about the Russian? Interpreters are primarily interested in adequacy and semantic equality. So how is it best to reproduce this type of questions so that the meaning is not lost?

Transmission in Russian

alternative type of question

Usually this is not a problem. Despite the fact that alternative questions in English, unlike Russian, use reverse order of words in their constructions, translation rarely causes difficulties. Unionorsuccessfully replaces "or":

Do you work in the office or at home?

What do you like: tea or coffee?

Do you prefer to play the piano or read books?

Do you drive a car or your husband?

Is there Anne or Jenny?

Obviously, the construction of such questionsare similar in both Russian and English, with the exception of the absence in the last verb-ligament in such an explicit form. By the way, here they are also of the same type - they are also called alternative. So the idea that all languages ​​are related in some ways may not be meaningless.

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