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The title to this question is sort of long-winded but the example here should clarify it.

Which of these is correct?

  1. Who should be baby-sitting your children, your neighborhood teenagers or professionally trained people?
  2. Who should be baby-sitting your children? Your neighborhood teenagers or professionally trained people?
  3. Who should be baby-sitting your children? Your neighborhood teenagers? Or, professionally trained people?

I think option 1 is definitely wrong. Option 2 or 3 could both work but I am not sure.

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3  
What in the title is called answer is a list of possible answers, which is part of the question. –  kiamlaluno Feb 9 '11 at 21:17

3 Answers 3

Sentences 2 and 3 are correct, albeit informal. You can fix sentence 1 by replacing the first comma with a colon, making it perfectly correct and formal:

Who should be baby-sitting your children: your neighborhood teenagers or professionally trained people?


If you are curious as to why this is correct, simply replace the interrogative pronoun, who, with the noun of your choice. You should have the same correct punctuation:

Either of these/the following should be baby-sitting your children: your neighborhood teenagers or professionally trained people.

When in doubt as to how to punctuate a question, try to convert it to the non-interrogative form and punctuate accordingly. Questions are sentences in their own right, and thus should follow the same rules of punctuation as statements, except for the question mark at the end.

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Colon or semi-colon? If colon, shouldn't the 'Y' in 'your' be capitalized? –  oosterwal Feb 9 '11 at 21:17
1  
Definitely a colon. And no, your should not be capitalized, except the writer is aiming for some stylistic effect. –  Jimi Oke Feb 9 '11 at 22:19
1  
Actually, I think the comma to introduce the choices is just as valid as a colon. It's the same sort of thing as introducing a quote: Michael said, "lorem ipsum." John said: "dolor." –  JPmiaou Mar 14 '11 at 18:36

3 is pushy, you would want to be wary of being pushy with the topic of other people's children or decisions. 2 is often used as a debate starter. If you want to gently make the point to someone you'd want to reword the whole thing, suggestively and passively.

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Actually, I would say 2 and 3 are both wrong since the second 'sentence' in each isn't really a sentence at all. Number one is perfectly understandable as it is.

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While number 1 is perfectly understandable, it is still wrong: "your children, your neighborhood teenagers, or professionally trained people" is punctuated as a list of three things, all of whom seem to need babysitting. Let me note that numbers 2 and 3 are also perfectly understandable as is. –  Peter Shor Jul 26 at 23:19

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