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Was it specifically mentioned as part of their teaching or they have just happened not to have killed anyone?

Do I need have there?

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2 Answers 2

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You do need the have, but it’s because you need inversion:

Was it specifically mentioned as part of their teaching or have they just happened not to have killed anyone?

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Why do I need an inversion there? Is the "was it" inversion not enough for forming a question here? –  brilliant May 2 '12 at 0:53
    
@brilliant It’s because of the or. Both parts require inversion. “Did you do this or did she do that?” “Are you going or are we staying?” –  tchrist May 2 '12 at 1:01
    
But why then we don't need it in "Is it an apple or a pear?"? I don't think we need to say "Is it an apple or is it a pear?" –  brilliant May 2 '12 at 1:14
    
@brilliant Yes, that’s right. But if you have a verb in the or part, then you need inversion. –  tchrist May 2 '12 at 1:16
    
Ah! I see. Thank you. What do you think about a case with comma? This is what Alok has just brought up in his answer. –  brilliant May 2 '12 at 2:01
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You could split up the sentence with a comma, I think then you won't need 'have':

Was it specifically mentioned as part of their teaching, or they just happened not to have killed anyone?

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That doesn’t scan in English. Sorry. –  tchrist May 2 '12 at 2:04
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