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Towards more picturesque speech

for extra cosmological points, try the preferred EU formulation.

George Orwell on plain English | SEC guidance on plain English Plain English Anatomy Noun | Verb | Adjective | Adverb | Preposition | Conjunction | Latin | Germany | Flannel | Legal triplicate | Nominalisation | Murder your darlings

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And/or is the legal eagle’s equivalent of a damp kipper handshake. Avoid it. There is no more obvious sign that a text is in need of a plain English reaming.

And/ormeansor”, because “orincludesand”.

That’s it.

In tedious detail

And/or” has a face only a mother could love. It is borne of the fear that, when considering alternatives any of which leads to a given outcome, things might somehow be different if they all occur.

There is no grounds for this fear. Logically, this is how one defines and and or:

And” is a logical operator which gives the value one if and only if all the operands are one, and otherwise has a value of zero.
Or” is a logical operation which gives the value one if at least one operand has the value one, and otherwise gives a value of zero.

The and/or paradox

Besides, and/or is not just ugly; it’s circular. It presents as a paradox, because of that slash. Now the slash is not a part of idiomatic punctuation in the English language. It’s a decoration with no fixed grammatical meaning. To use a slash in legal writing is to confess that the ordinary, punctuated words of the English language have defeated you.

In “and/or”, that slash means — can only mean — “or”. So by saying “and/or” you are really saying “and, or or”. But to be hermetically sealed and consistent, shouldn’t you make one further clarifying step, and say “and, and/or or”?


Go back to your draft and strike all examples, and we shall never speak of this again.

See also