RE: And Or situations

Subject: RE: And Or situations
From: Fred Ridder <docudoc -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "Cardimon, Craig" <ccardimon -at- m-s-g -dot- com>, "'TECHWR-L (techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com)'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 21 Oct 2013 16:39:26 -0400

Craig Cardimon wrote:

> What is the simplest way of handling "and/or" situations? Writing "and/or" all the time seems a bit clumsy after awhile.

When used properly, "A and/or B" means "either A or B, or both A and B", or "either A or B or both" in the slightly shorter form. Another way of putting it is "either or both of A and B". Or if you prefer formal logical terminology, "the non-exclusive OR of A and B".

Some people will say that it is OK to substitute a simple "or" for "and/or", and in some contexts that is probably true. But when the context is logic or computer programming they are simply not equivalent because "or" may or may not include both the non-exclusive and exclusive cases. It may be possible to define a convention for a particular document that specifies that "or" indicates a logical OR (i.e., non-exclusive, "and/or") and "either...or" indicates a logical XOR (exclusive, one or the other but not both). But there are still opportunities for misunderstanding, so the consequences must be weighed before taking such an approach.

For more than two options, I'd argue that "and/or" is almost never the best way to express a non-exclusive choice. Much better to say something like "one or more from the options A, B, C, ..." or "any or all of".

-Fred Ridder

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And Or situations: From: Cardimon, Craig

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