Is "or else" used properly in combining the following sentences?1. A new son or daughter was born. 2. The child's name had to be kept secret. 3. A stranger might hear the name. 4. A stranger might...

Is "or else" used properly in combining the following sentences?

1. A new son or daughter was born.

2. The child's name had to be kept secret.

3. A stranger might hear the name.

4. A stranger might use it to bewitch the child.

Here is my combined sentence:

When a new son or daughter was born, the child's name had to be kept secret, or else a stranger might hear the name and use it to bewitch the child.

Asked on by james2011

2 Answers | Add Yours

herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Your combined statement:

When a new son or daughter was born, the child's name had to be kept secret, or else a stranger might hear the name and use it to bewitch the child.

Is correct!

The words "or else" are what is known as a conjunction followed by an adverb. This means that it joins a thought that comes after the conjunction and is used to make an alternate statement. If you are a speaker of a different language, the phrase "or else" can take the same meaning as other phrases such as "or otherwise" and "or if not." Therefore it is a phrase that implies a different or alternative action.

Sources:
readerofbooks's profile pic

readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The sentence as you have it is fine. You correctly use the words, "or else." What you have is a coordinating conjunction "or" and an adverb "else", which is completely fine. What this does is create an alternative between two options.

I assume that you are asking this question because the sentence might sound correct if you remove the word "else." 

That said, there are other ways to do this. A more economical way to accomplish this is by using the word "otherwise." If you use this word, then there is no doubt as to what you are trying to say. 

Another way to rephrase the sentence is by using the word "because." If you did this the sentence would read:

When a new son or daughter was born, the child's name had to be kept secret, because a stranger might hear the name and use it to bewitch the child.

The merit of this approach is that you answer the question "why." 

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,988 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question