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  5. "Anteeksi, puhutko sinä ransk…

"Anteeksi, puhutko sinä ranskaa tai englantia?"

Translation:Excuse me, do you speak either French or English?

June 25, 2020



"Either" is not a mandatory word in this context


I don't think it's belongs there at all: to my ears, "either ... or" is exclusive, while "tai" is inclusive.


Excuse me, do you speak French or English should be an acceptable answer and is grammatical correct


Then the Finnish version should be "Anteeksi puhutko sinä joko ranskaa tai englantia"


It can also work without "either"


...are you speaking... should work as well as do you speak!

  • 1321

Since a person usually does not speak two languages at the same time, you would use "vai" in this case. "Vai" is exclusive and only one of the options can be correct. "Tai" implies that ether one or both of the options can be correct.


I disagree. If you need to find someone who speaks at least one of those languages (for communicating, etc.), it does not matter if they also speak the other. If I speak both French and English, will you refuse to talk to me? :)

I would think "tai" is correct just as they have it.

  • 1321

Then you would not use the continuous, which implies the speaker is speaking a specific language at this very moment. The asker is not asking about somebody’s ability to speak more than one language, but trying to identify which language the speaker is speaking at this moment. This is exclusive, even if the speaker is indeed able to speak both French and English.


I don't see anything necessarily continuous about it. I was under the impression that Finnish has no continuous tense.

  • 1321

that Finnish has no continuous tense.

Correct. But languages that do not use any verbal form to express continuity of action have other means of conveying this concept.

Because the original Finnish sentence uses ”tai”, it is asking whether the other person is generally able to speak language A and/or B. If the asker wanted to know what language the other person is speaking at this very moment (A or B) would require ”vai”.


I understand now. I was thinking of the original sentence, not his proposed change.


You and Jileha are both posting replies to my post where I suggested are you speaking. That is a present continuous rather than present simple.


You are right, Webb.Paul. I was responding to the original sentence, missing the point of the discussion entirely. Sorry, my bad.


Doesn't either-or imply an exlusive or? And isn't tai an inclusive or? If the english sentence uses either-or, shouldn't the finnish sentence use vai? At least the english solution without either should be accepted. Or am I missing something?


As a native English speaker, I'd say that "Either A or B" in English isn't automatically exclusive. English doesn't really make that distinction here without extra words like "but not both". If you ask me whether I speak either English or French, and I happen to speak both languages, I will truthfully answer "yes".

The idea, as I understand it, is that either "tai" or "vai" can be used in the Finnish question, with the same English translation but with different meanings.


I read earlier that "vai " is exclusively used in a question. Why not here?

Jileha pointed out a very good point which I agree with because that is how I understood it too, but I'd like to know if it could be used with this reason here.


Sometimes the language gets an extra 'a' on the end - like ranskaa but not englantia - why is that?


It's the partitive case. Ranska -> ranskaa, englanti -> englantia and so on.

With languages the partitive is used for example in the context of speaking, knowing or understanding the language. With the idea being along the line that the action is never about the whole language, only a part.

Whereas if for example describing the language, partitive is not used. Ranska on vaikea kieli (French is a difficult language).


I find it helpful to think of "tai" as meaning "and/or". You rarely hear such a construction in spoken English, but possibly in written English, such as in a survey question.

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