"Does he prefer meat or fish?"
Translation:Preferisce carne o pesce?
Strangely enough, the definite article is used when you are talking about a specific item, one that would require 'the' in English, and also to refer non-specifically to a category of items in general, where English would not employ 'the', eg (the) meat, (the) fish. Not being a native speaker, I don't whether the definite article is actually mandatory in Italian for the latter.
Agreed. Another way of putting this is that you can omit the article when there is in implicit "some" or "any". For example, "Do you want (some) meat?" (Vuoi carne?) vs "Do you eat meat?" (Mangi il carne?).
So, here, I would have expected Preferisce il carne o il pesce, but clearly the article is not mandatory. (It may even depend on whether you are asking "In general, do you prefer meat or fish" or "Would you now like some meat or some fish").
Are you sure? I'm a beginner but I've seen lessons where using the personal pronoun after the verb indicates a stress. For example, "guido io" translates to "I (with a stress!!!) drive". This doesn't answer dwarkentin's question but merely just questions RenatoSSTradutor's reply. Thanks.
As I said, it may be possible Italian, but it is not good Italian. Both "either...or" and "neither...nor" imply a third thing (what giuliap calls "a gray area"), just as "o...o" and "né...né" do. That implication is stronger in the negative form than the positive, but it is still there.
And as I said: in English, yes, in Italian, no. It seems you are still trying to translate word-for-word, which doesn’t work between any languages.
Whilst in Italy recently, a travel agent told me, “Può andare o in treno o in pullman.’ I’m afraid I don’t understand why you feel there MUST be a third option using ‘either’ and ‘or,’ in either language. It’s not precluded, but certainly not an absolute necessity.
Here’s another example. The slogan for the Italian snack ‘Crik Crok’ is ‘o fanno crik o fanno crok.’ I saw the advert in many shops and on many hoardings. [The article spells it ‘crick’ and ‘crock’ but that is irrelevant] The point is the use of ‘o’ as ‘either’ and/or ‘or.’ Here is a link to the site. http://www.dooyoo.it/piatto-pronto/crick-crock/551086/
As for what comprises good Italian, I think I’ll stick with an Italian travel agent and an Italian advertising company!