General Writing and Grammar Help/Conjunction Question

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Question
Dear Ted, I have a question about the following sentence.  
    "The soldiers do not question or are concerned about their duties in this war."  

In the above statement, is it correct that this sentence means that the soldiers do not question their duties in this war and are not concerned about their duties in this war?

I ask because the conjunction used in the above sentence is "or".  However the second part of the sentence does not contain a negative, therefore, I am unsure if this second have is still interpreted as a negative statement(i.e., "are not concerned about their duties in this war").  
 I very much need your assistance."

Answer
Dear Laura:

Dear Ted, I have a question about the following sentence.  
    "The soldiers do not question or are concerned about their duties in this
war."  

In the above statement, is it correct that this sentence means that the soldiers
do not question their duties in this war and are not concerned about their
duties in this war?

I ask because the conjunction used in the above sentence is "or".  However the
second part of the sentence does not contain a negative, therefore, I am unsure
if this second have is still interpreted as a negative statement(i.e., "are not
concerned about their duties in this war").  
 I very much need your assistance."

*** Laura, I understand your frustration.  The sentence is very poorly written.  The idea that is being conveyed is that the soldiers do their duties in a war.  They do not take into question what havoc or ruin those duties cause:  They are trained soldiers.  They do what they are commanded to do.

YOU have discovered the problem that the original writer did not realize.  The second part of the sentence is WRONG.  You are CORRECT.

Here is a better version:

The soldiers do NOT question NOR are they concerned about their duties in this war.

Another:

The soldiers NEITHER question NOR are they concerned about their duties in this year.

*** The NEGATIVE aspect of the second part of the sentence was NOT written.

YOU, however, found the error and questioned the meaning of the sentence.  "Boo" on the original writer.  "Hurrah" for you!

Ted Nesbitt  

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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