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Hi,everyone. When we ask others what their preference is, we ask, "Which do you like better, A or B?" My question is: Can we change reorganize the sentence and say "A or B, which do you like better?" Are these two variations both allowed in English?I mean, Can they be used interchangeably?

This morning I came up with this question when I was proofreading the final test papers set by my colleague. She wrote in the directions for the last part of the test:

Education should be equally devoted to enriching the personal lives of students and to training students to be productive workers.” Do you agree or disagree with the statement? Personal enrichment or job preparation, which do you think is more important? Write an essay of about 350 words to explain your position. You should supply an appropriate title for your essay. (40%)

Personally, I don't think the underlined sentence reads well. Besides, I reckon that "Do you agree with the statement" suffices and there is no need to add"or disagree" to the question.

I would appreciate it if you could give me your views on these questions.

Thanks.
Richard
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Comments  (Page 2) 
Hi, Richard,

I think you read me better than I read you. You needn't worry about trying my patience. I'm a volunteer. If I engage your questions it's because I want to. I've fully enjoyed thinking about the issues you've brought up. Emotions are sometimes misunderstood on the internet. I guess that's why they have "emoticons." When I reply to an "unanswered" post it's often with the expectation and the hope that others will answer too. My answers are not as balanced as they would be if I knew in advance that I'd be the only respondent.

My only college English course was a remedial one I had to take because I blew the test during orientation week. It was essentially a writing course. The professor would project a student's composition onto the wall, and proceed to eliminate about a third of it. It has stuck with me. I'm a champion of clean writing, although my work doesn't show it.

But on the other hand, what good is elegance if you fail to make your point?

Your first post complained that a colleague's work should have been pruned. In terms of good English writing, you're probably right. But I think instructions are a special case. You make a good point that overkill can sometimes confuse both the reader and the writer, but a little redundancy often helps in the case of instructions.

"There's surely a place for that." I meant there are plenty of times when understatement is the way to go. But not in instructions. If I had to choose between redundancy and ambiguity, I'd go with redundancy every time.

I remember my feelings of extreme anger and frustration when we first got flooded with Asian products, and had to decipher assembly instructions and maintenance and operating manuals written by people who obviously didn't know English. I realize the shoe was on the other foot for years, but to us at the time it seemed like arrogance. (I don't know why I brought this up. I'm really tired. Oh, yes - instructions must be super clear.)

Anyway, I'm glad you decided to come back with another question. Please continue.