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I need to have my English students read a pie chart containing information about jobs. One of the questions I wrote is:

"What job don't students like very much?"

(They are expected to read the chart and say "doctor," which was voted by two students only).

Now, is that question grammatically correct? I just find it awkward. I know there are more natural options, but that is the wording I need for non-native 6th graders. Thanks in advance! I apologize if you find this question too silly.

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    You might think that "Which of these jobs don't these students like very much?" is in a more formal register. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 21 '15 at 14:05
  • I definitely like you version better, Edwin. But still, is mine correct? – M-b Jun 21 '15 at 14:17
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    Collins gives: what determiner 1. a. used with a noun in requesting further information about the identity or categorization of something: what job does he do?. It's grammatical. But I'd use 'What job does he do' as a cold question, but 'Which of these jobs don't these students like very much?' given an (especially short) list/subset to choose from, as in your 'question'. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 21 '15 at 14:29
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    Yours is correct. It is just the contraction does not sound natural. See the answer below for suggested rewrites – gelolopez Jun 21 '15 at 14:30
  • The "mistake" in your question, is "also" in the word job. The accepted answer talk abouts Which ... jobs*. Alternatives: "What (type of) job(s) do students dislike most?" OR "Which job do students like the least?" OR "Which is the most unpopular job for students?" OR "Which job is the least popular/ has the least number of votes?" etc. – Mari-Lou A Jun 22 '15 at 8:55
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I think it's ok but maybe move the "not" and change "what" to "which"

Which of the jobs do students not like very much?

or perhaps better

Which of the jobs do students like the least?

Eplanation:

Removing the contraction "don't" to "do not" becomes "do not students like" which sounds wrong. It's very yoda speak.

"Which" is preferable to "What". It's not an open-ended question. They are being asked to select from a range of answers so "which" is more appropriate.

"Not like very much" vs "like the least". I think the latter is more accurate for the question. It is asking for THE least whereas the former could answer with a selection.

  • Thanks, Avon. Can you tell why? I feel like placing 'not' at the end, too, but cannot say why. Is there a rule or is it just about usage? – M-b Jun 21 '15 at 14:31
  • Sure I'll put explanations in edit – Avon Jun 21 '15 at 14:32
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    Do you not move words around regularly when you split up contractions in sentences like "don't you move words around regularly?" Why should this sentence be any different? – Peter Shor Jun 21 '15 at 22:57
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    @PeterShor "What job do not students like?" I have not heard of this kind of student. I guess they're not students at all. ("not" sounds like an adjective before the noun like that.) – Avon Jun 21 '15 at 23:01

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