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I hear it all the time from my colleagues: But that's correct, or? However, my colleagues are all German, and in German, one can turn a statement into a question by adding oder (which means or). Does this sound natural to a native speakers ears?

  • I'd understand it, but maybe only because that's also frequent in French. – Nikana Reklawyks Jan 23 '13 at 22:07
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Or can be used to extend questions where there are other options not being mentioned that the respondent can fill in. Generally speaking, it cannot turn a declarative statement into a question. Examples of where it would be properly used are:

Do you want to go to the movies, or ...? [the mall]
Would tuna for lunch be ok, or ...? [no, I'll have salmon instead]

It is important to note that typically, or would only be used followed by a trailing ellipses.

More common are yes and no, which can be used to turn declarative statements into questions, such as:

She found $20 at the beach, no? ["didn't she" is another acceptable alternative to "no" here]
He had lunch yesterday at McDonald's, yes?

Either way, whether you use yes or or or no, such usage is generally accepted in speech and in informal writing, but not in formal writing.

  • +1 In German, "oder" is used exactly the way you suggest using "yes" or "no" above. This question is not about the situation where you would use "or" with a trailing ellipse. – MetaEd Jan 23 '13 at 23:07
5

A very common equivalent in English is right. For example:

Aber das ist wahr, oder?

Is directly equivalent in English to:

But that’s correct, right?

4

This doesn't doesn't sound right to me, a native speaker, and a native speaker wouldn't do this.

A question can end in or, however that is used as a prompt to the answerer, asking if there could be another solution.

Other than that, this wouldn't be used this way.

2

In speech, especially if the or trails off expectantly, this would be a fairly natural usage. It would imply that the questioner is open to some other answer as an alternative to the one implied in the question or context. t would never be used in formal writing.

  • Down-voted? For any particular reason? – Ryan Haber Jan 24 '13 at 23:05
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It's possible, but the more natural expression would be

... or something? ... or what?

as in

Do you want to see a movie or something?

Is this correct, or what?

1

waiwai's answer is very good and detailed, but I have something else I'd like to add. Judging from the question and some other comments, I'm thinking that the closest English construction to the original German is "or not".

So she found the shell on the beach, or not?

As you said, the "or" in german is use to change a declarative into a question. "So she found the shell on the beach" is a perfectly acceptable declarative sentence; in English the "or not" is appended to the end to change it into a question.

To use your original example, "But that's correct, or not?" would be a perfectly acceptable English construction. It seems to me that the only difference is that in German the "not" is implied, whereas in English it has to be stated outright.

So that answers your question, or not? ;)

As others have suggested, "right" can also be used in these situations, as can "yes" or "no" (depending on whether the statement was positive or negative). But this seems to be the closest construction to what you mentioned in the question.

  • Just realized I subconsciously borrowed the "finding things at the beach" setting from waiwai's answer as well. headdesk Credit where credit is due! – WendiKidd Feb 12 '13 at 1:12

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