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I want to ask a question about a piece of text.

Is the text about McDonalds Corporation or McDonalds Products?

I want the answer to be "Yes"/"No", rather than "McDonalds Corporation"/"McDonalds Products."

How do I ask the question unambiguously? Should I start with "Answer Yes or No:"?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 14 down vote accepted

One way would be to prefix the answer selection with "Answer Yes or No". However, I would recommend the following:

Is this question about either McDonalds Corporation or McDonalds Products?

The word either suggests that either of the two options is accessible, which in the context of a yes/no question forces the interpretation that you desire.

If there are three or more things, try "any of":

Is this question about any of apples, pears, or pineapples?

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2  
I would suggest one more change: ...McDonald's corporation or their products ... –  JeffSahol Aug 26 '11 at 23:24
2  
"McDonald's corporation or its products." –  kiamlaluno Aug 27 '11 at 0:08
    
I still read all these versions as ambiguous. I think it's unusual to need to make this distinction, since even if someone answers with either one of the two options then you should be able to understand that the answer you wanted is "yes", and probably for that reason the language hasn't really developed a non-ambiguous way to ask this. You can always add a sentence before or after the question to the effect of "I would like a single yes-or-no answer." –  bdsl Apr 16 '12 at 23:29
    
@bdsl : funny, I read none of them as ambiguous. Then again, if I am asked if I would like some coffee or tea, I'm likely to answer yes or no as well... –  oerkelens Feb 6 at 15:44
    
I think you could just do McDonald's corporation or products. –  Eli Feb 6 at 16:30

I would ask: "Is the text about McDonalds Corporation/Products?" But I guess this common practice is not correct. For the other meaning, I would ask: "Is the text about McDonalds Corporation? Or McDonalds products?".

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You could make more clear that the two options are not completely different (which would hint that an exclusive answer is expected) by not repeating McDonald's:

Is this text about either McDonalds Corporation or their products?

Then again, you could rephrase it by making it a very clear yes/no question:

Is it true that this text is about McDonalds Corporation or their products?

Or even:

Is the following statement true or false? This text is about McDonalds Corporation or their products.

You might still get jokers like me who will answer you "Yes. The statement is definitely true or false", but those jokers are used to getting punished for that ;)

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