I wonder when someone writes down the following sentence as a headline of a writing

Will Trump build the wall?

Could it have two meaning as follows

  1. "Is Trump going to build the wall?" ( just asking people if the wall is going to be built)

  2. As a request : "I want Trump to build the wall" or "Could you build the wall, Trump?" or "Would you like Trump to build the wall??"

So should someone always say, "Is Trump going to build the wall?" to simply ask a question if something will happen, in order to prevent any misunderstandings in this case?

1 Answer 1


Yes, you are correct and this simple question can have various meanings, depending on context. It can be a real question:

"Will Trump build the wall?" (asked of someone who works for Trump)
"Yes of course, but we are just waiting for Mexico to send us the check to pay for it."

It can be a rhetorical question (in a magazine article):

"Will Trump build the wall? Let's look at the facts ... (data data data) ... Probably not. "

It can be a request / demand:

"Will Trump build the wall (already)!"
"I know, I expected it to be his highest priority but now he says he may not."

I don't know if there is any question that can't be made rhetorical. In this case, no matter how I rewrite it, you'd have to use context to know what the writer intends. Even something like this:

What will you do if Trump builds his wall?

Could be rhetorical:

What would you do? I'll tell you what you will do! Start a huge handball tournament, that's what you will do!

  • 1
    In his new-found religiosity, Trump may be taking inspiration from Jericho: Joshua 6.20 Jan 10, 2017 at 21:14
  • @RonaldSole he'd have to build it before he could huff and puff and blow it down. Assuming he doesn't make it from bricks.
    – Andrew
    Jan 10, 2017 at 21:15
  • He may have held the book upside down when he read the passage. Jan 10, 2017 at 21:18
  • let's just delete the wall! Jan 10, 2017 at 21:48

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