Volume 31, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238



This conversation analytic study investigates the sequential organization and question constraints of alternative questions in English with a focus on response formats. Building on research on polar and wh-questions (among others, Enfield, Stivers and Levinson 2010Raymond 2003Thompson, Fox and Couper-Kuhlen 2015), this article shows that responses to alternative questions that include a repeat of one of the alternatives are type-conforming, those that do not are nonconforming. Additionally, even though the concept of contiguity (Sacks 1973/1987) might suggest that the second alternative be confirmed, participants confirm either alternative unproblematically. Finally, my work shows that alternative questions can create difficulties for action ascription, because as they are being produced, they often resemble polar questions. My study adds to our understanding of question-answer sequences in English by providing an overview of an understudied question type in English. The data are in American English.


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