Doomed domicile

That historic house on Linebrook Road — will it be moved or demolished?

The answer is yes.

Oh, that’s not what you meant? You wanted me to choose one? Sorry, I misunderstood — because the conjunction or is so lame.

Anytime you use this little item — the word or — double-check its surroundings. It’s possible that some readers will think you’re offering a choice you didn’t intend to offer.

When we speak, the listener hears our tone of voice, which signals which or we mean: a choice between two items, or a listing of two viable possibilities.

Even adding a comma — will it be moved, or demolished? — doesn’t solve the problem. Some readers may still “hear” the question differently than you intended.

How to guarantee that the reader chooses between the two? I don’t know. Help me.

I’m for leaving the house there. But nobody’s asking my opinion.

P.S. It’s Shakespeare’s birthday. He’s the guy who wrote To be, or not to be: that is the question. In other words, choose one — you can’t have it both ways.See? Even Shakespeare was nervous about leaving an or question hanging out there.

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