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Assume we want to ask somebody to choose between two options. Each option is a phrase like "stay home" or "come with me". What is the correct form of asking such questions?

  1. Do you want to stay home or come with me?
  2. Do you want to stay home or do you want to come with me?
  3. Do you want to stay home or you want to come with me?

Any better form? What if there are more than two options?

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4 Answers 4

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1 or 2 is fine (but use at home or even home rather than in home); 3 is not. (However, in informal speech, the instances of do are often dropped from 1 or 2.)

For more than two options, the same applies:

  1. Do you want to stay home, come with me, or go to town?
  2. Do you want to stay home, do you want to come with me, or do you want to go to town?

Of course, with more options, 2 is very wordy, so 1 will be more common.

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  • Thanks msh210. I edited the question and fixed the mistake.
    – Helium
    Mar 30, 2011 at 7:47
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You can choose between:

Do you want to stay at home, or come with me?
Do you want to stay at home, or do you want to come with me?

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This is an interesting question, because the answer seems to be more pragmatic than grammatical.

As others have said, you can coordinate the object of the verb "want":

Do you want [[to stay at home] or [to come with me]]?

or you can coordinate the whole VP (verb phrase):

[[Do you want to stay at home] or [do you want to come with me]]?

But there are two other levels at which you might try to coordinate:

Do you [[want to stay at home] or [want to come with me]]?
Do [[you want to stay at home] or [you want to come with me]]?

and these are not acceptable (at least, the last isn't: the previous one might just be).

But this is not a grammatical restriction: if you make the alternatives more different, they are fine in my estimation:

Do you [[want to stay at home] or [prefer to come with me]]?
Do [[you want to stay at home] or [both of you want to come with me]]?

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  • Is do you want to stay at home really a VP? I'd call it a clause. It contains the subject. (Compared to canonical clauses, the subject and auxiliary verb in a question are swapped.) In fact this gives a syntactic reason why Do [[you want to X] or [you want to Y]]? is not acceptable: you want to X isn't the whole clause; the verb of that clause is do. Mar 30, 2011 at 12:13
  • I find the last two sentences just as iffy as the previous two, but maybe it's just me. Mar 30, 2011 at 12:19
  • "Do you want to stay at home or want to come with me?" is fine to use and is more obvious with other verbs: "Do you jump on the bed or sit on the chair?"
    – MrHen
    Mar 30, 2011 at 19:32
  • @Jason: you're right, they are not VP's: my mistake. But as I say, that construction is acceptable to me if the subject is different: not to you apparently.
    – Colin Fine
    Mar 31, 2011 at 10:29
  • @MrHen I agree about "Do you X or Y?" and "Do you want to X or want to Y?" is very common on the web. Still, it sounds pretty awful to me in most cases. "Do you X or they Y?" is worse. Mar 31, 2011 at 11:48
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1 and 2 are fine, and as mentioned, 2 is a bit wordy.

Also consider something along the lines of

Are you coming with me or staying home?

or the extremely informal

Are you coming or staying?

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