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  5. And vs Or?


And vs Or?

Read the following:

When Maddie or I am talking.

In English, when you have two pronouns or nouns that take different forms of the same verb, you should use the form that agrees with the closest subject. In formal writing, this is avoided. Therefore, I've just decided to use, as a rule of thumb, an extra verb in that sentence. For example:

When Maddie IS or I AM talking.

Does this make sense? I think it does. However, I don't know what to do when speaking French. French doesn't really say I AM talkING. They just say "I talk." So, how would I get the verb talking to agree when speaking French and writing formally?

I typed it into Google Translate, and it gave me "Quand Maddie ou moi parlons."

Now, I know to take Google Translate with a grain of salt, and I really have no idea if this is right. In English, one must say "When Maddie AND I ARE talking," and this is 100% correct. With "and," we all of a sudden are talking about US and therefore use "are." However, with "or," we're talking about one or the other. Therefore, in English, we don't use "are" (even though many people due in regular speech). As I stated before, this whole situation is usually avoided, but say I really wanted to use it in my writing. Can anyone tell me what the French would say that's GRAMMATICALLY correct (not just in everyday speech)?

March 7, 2018



Well, the way I would translate it as would be "When I or Maddie are speaking." That way, it's still sort of grammatically correct in English, and can be easily translated into French.

"Quand moi ou Maddie parlons" is sort of correct. (Don't take my word for it as I'm still only learning). But what I'm not sure of is whether there should be a que or qui in there somewhere? Or whether we should say "are speaking" by using parler as a noun?

You've got me stumped and I would really like to know the answer to this as well.


I don't think you use Parlons... that doesn't sound right to me.

In English I'd say "When Maddie or I is speaking". If I were to guess I'd assume it's "Quand Maddie ou moi est parler." But that's probably wrong.


I always reasoned in English that it should be "is." Let's say that only one of us can talk at a time-we'd be using "or" here as exclusive. You could re-write the sentence to say "When either Maddie or I." The word "either" causes the verb to be singular, and you'd have "When either Maddie or I is speaking."

Note: You can't say "moi eat parler" in French. You have to conjugate parler and take away "est."

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