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  5. "Are they speaking German or …

"Are they speaking German or French?"

Translation:Puhuvatko he saksaa vai ranskaa?

July 2, 2020



Why puhuvatko he, cant we just say puhuvatko??? Isn't that the verb's form for He(they)???


Only 1st and 2nd person subjects can be omitted. 3rd person verbs on their own are ambiguous about what the subject is. Singular 3rd person verbs can refer to "hän", "se", and any singular noun. Plural 3rd person verbs can refer to "he", "ne", and any plural noun. 1st and 2nd person verbs can only refer to one particular pronoun.


"Vai" includes the assertion or the assumption that the presented options are the only possible options, so the speaker is assuming that they are either speaking French or speaking German, and is asking which one it is, so it's not a yes-or-no question and the only two expected responses are "German" and "French". Using "tai" instead makes it into a yes-or-no question, meaning that the only two expected responses are, "yes, they are speaking at least one of those languages" or "no, they are not speaking either of those languages".


Why ne and not he???


he is the best translation at our end. ne is also accepted because it's so common in spoken language. :)

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