Exclusive and inclusive "or"


New Member
English: United States of America
I am looking for a single word to indicate the inclusive or. Example, consider the question:

Do you want to do A or B?
English seems to universally use this as an exclusive or;
that is, it connotes
A, but not B,
alternatively B, but not A.

Some people tend to use and/or when they mean the inclusive or, with these options:
A, but not B
B, but not A
A and B.

Thus, I am looking for a crisper way than "and/or" to express the inclusive or.
  • dwipper

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    I doubt you'll have much luck finding anything more concise than "and/or" if you want to be sure that you are understood. There might be other, more labored ways to express an inclusive 'or', but I'd bet that "and/or" is as good as you'll get.


    If wou want something that encompases both choices along with single choices, several AE speakers use the and/or. "I would like A and/or B." It is pronounced as it looks, "and or".


    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    It seems that every grammar book warns against the "and/or" construction. Try or. . .or both. Take an aspirin or lie down or both.


    Senior Member
    UK English
    In spoken English there is no problem. The distinction between inclusiveness and exclusiveness is made through intonation.

    When do you want apple or blackcurrant? is intoned with no change in intonation over the words apple or blackcurrant (apart from the normal falling intonation on blackcurrant) the meaning is inclusive. If the intonation on apple rises and falls (retaining the fall over blackcurrant) the meaning is exclusive. A great deal of the meaning of an utterance is conveyed in its intonation. The latter could be made inclusive by the appending or both and an appropriate change to the intonation on blackcurrant and both.
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