'without A or B' and 'without A and B'

LikeBarleyBending

Senior Member
China, Chinese
Hi Everyone,

Are the two expressions below both grammatically correct?

I googled and found 'without A and B' is much more used than 'without A or B', which is just contrary to my understanding that 1) should be more grammatically correct, just like 'not A or B'.

Can anybody kindly help me out? Thanks.

1) Discipline Without Stress Punnishments or Rewards
2) Discipline Without Stress Punnishments and Rewards
 
  • Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Hi Everyone,

    Are the two expressions below both grammatically correct?

    I googled and found 'without A and B' is much more used than 'without A or B', which is just contrary to my understanding that 1) should be more grammatically correct, just like 'not A or B'.

    Can anybody kindly help me out? Thanks.

    1) Discipline Without Stress Punnishments or Rewards
    2) Discipline Without Stress Punnishments and Rewards

    Your example is actually difficult to use because of the opposite nature of "stress" and "punishment" when compared to "rewards". I'm going to give a different example... here's an item on a menu in a restaurant:

    "8 oz. steak with French fries, salad or mushrooms"

    OR

    "8 oz. steak with French fries, salad and mushrooms"

    With the first meal, I get only one of the choices - fries, salad or mushrooms. With the second meal, I get all of them.
     

    AWordLover

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hi,

    I am still a bit confused. If neither A or B exists in something, shall I use:

    something without A or B [Use this one to be clear.]

    or:

    Something without A and B?

    Thanks.

    My answer is in red inside the quote.

    Let's try some simple examples. For background note that the US flag is red, white and blue.

    Is it true that the flag of the US has neither green or red? [No, it has red.]

    Is it true that the flag of the US is without green or red? [No, it has red.]

    Is it true that the flag of the US is without green and red? [Yes, it doesn't have both green and red since it doesn't have green. (This meaning is not the only interpretation of the phrase "without green and red", some might think it meant either instead of both.)]
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    < This thread has been added to a previous discussion. Cagey, moderator. >

    Hello

    I'm pondering the use of 'or' preceded by a negative, as in

    She's a woman without scruples or fear.

    Do you feel there's an element ambiguity in that sentence in regard to the use of 'or'?

    Is it a case where one must let context decide how to interpret it?

    Logically, it seems the sentence could mean

    1) She has neither scruples nor fear.

    as well as

    2) She has either no scruples or no fear.

    But language and logic do not always agree.

    Also, what do you think about the following sentence:

    She's a woman without scruples and fear.


    Logically it can only mean that she has neither scruples nor fear, so in that respect it is not ambiguous.

    But is it idiomatic?
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think most people would take 'She's a woman without scruples or fear' to mean that she has neither scuples nor fear, but if one ponders it for too long it does appear to be a little ambiguous. It could easily be avoided, as you rightly suggest, by writing 'She has neither scruples nor fear'.

    'She's a woman without scruples and fear' does indeed eradicate any ambiguity, but it sounds very unnatural.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I agree with heypresto except that, even after pondering, the Exclusive-Or option does not work for me. To force this interpretation you would have to change the sentence, e.g.

    Either she's a woman without scruples or she has no fear. and even that is not commutative.
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Thank you, heypresto and Biffo. Those are much appreciated replies. :)

    For users not very familiar with the term 'exclusive or' (such as myself), here's Collins' definition:
    exclusive or
    n
    (Philosophy / Logic) Logic the connective that gives the value true to a disjunction if one or other, but not both, of the disjuncts are true
     

    retrogradedwithwind

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I am still confused.

    This is a room without chairs and tables.
    This is a room without chairs or tables.

    Then, if any chairs and/or tables in the room?

    Thank you all.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    If I meant that the room was empty of tables and chairs, I would say this sentence.
    This is a room without chairs or tables.

    This might mean the same thing, but it suggests to me that the tables and chairs are sets that went together:
    This is a room without chairs and tables.
    It isn't quite as clear to me; there might be a few chairs, or a few tables, but not both tables and chairs. (I don't think people are as likely to say this.)
     

    retrogradedwithwind

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you Cagey, I think the problem solved.

    Just like "bread and butter", "chairs and tables" implies that if one of the two does not exist in the room, then "chairs and tables" does not exist.
     

    00B00

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    < This thread has been added to a previous discussion. Cagey, moderator. >

    Which sentences below is correct ?

    "I think he looks good with and without the headband"

    Or

    "I think he looks good with or without the headband"
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Mahantongo

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    Only "or" is correct. If you use "and", you are suggesting that he can somehow be seen wearing the headband and not wearing the headband at the same time, which is impossible.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Only "or" is correct.
    Except that "with and without" is a standard, common collocation to express alternatives. Here's a few of the 112 examples from the British National Corpus:
    For the widowed or divorced there was no difference between those with and without children nor any significant trend with the number of children.
    These early studies were performed in diabetics with and without clinical evidence of vascular disease.
    There are 90 rooms with and without private facilities.
    Examining patients with and without uraemia enabled us to look at the gastric mucosal damage ...
    and of the 970 in the Corpus of Contemporary American English
    ... fighting with bare knuckles, but he defended his title both with and without gloves over the course of the next decade ...
    ... kept busy running up to get the New England awards with and without her shoes!
    They tore away stoplights, trash-can lids, candy-striped awnings with and without fringes.
    ... so that they could weigh themselves with and without their backpack.
     
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