1

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

Do I need have there?

5

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?

  • 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
0

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?

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

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