If someone is asked the question below,

Q: Do you work or are you a student?
A: Neither. I had a job couple of months ago, but I lost it because...

does this answer above sound correct?

  • 2
    That’s like asking “Are you married, or do you have a job instead?” – tchrist Feb 28 '13 at 13:27
  • Nope. In fact these two options are relevant, especially when you can not know from his/her appearance. – canoe Feb 28 '13 at 13:39
  • 3
    What a strange question. I'm halfway through my Software Engineering degree and part of my study is to work for a year, on an industrial placement. I would say both here :^) To be more on topic, the answer sounds as right as it could be, as strange/rude as the question sounds... – Felix Weir Feb 28 '13 at 14:16
  • 2
    One could work and be a student. One could be unemployed and not be a student. One could be retired. One could be a housewife. For that matter, being a student might involve work, but that's probably just being contrary: we know what the questioner meant by "work". Of course real life is full of questions like this with debateable assumptions. "Are you a member of my political party or are you a racist?" etc – Jay Feb 28 '13 at 16:19
  • 3
    I think a better way to ask this question would be "Do you have a full-time job, or are you a full-time student?" (In the U.S., a full-time job is usually 40 hours a week, and a full-time student takes at least 12 credit hours of coursework.) Many full-time students have part-time jobs, and many full-time workers are part-time students, but you don't find too many people who work full time while they are full-time students. – J.R. Feb 28 '13 at 20:07

As much as the question might have some implications (i.e. it implies that someone can't work and be a student at the same time - which is not true), the answer sounds correct, according to the definition of neither.


My 2¢:

  • If you’re talking with somebody who needs the information (or whom you want to tell), such as a biographer or a prospective employer, the answer you suggested is just about right.
  • For pretty much anybody else, the conventional response is, “I’m between jobs right now.”  You can elaborate if asked (but see the next bullet).
  • OR, you can just find some way of saying that you find the question inappropriately intrusive.

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