“And/or” is one of those combined words that seem out of place in a lot of contexts. It’s fine in spoken English, but when you have to stick to specific written rules, you’ll be better off looking for an alternative. This article will provide the best ones.
Which Words Can I Use Instead Of “And/Or”?
There are a few great words we can use in this case. Why not check out one of the following:
- Either or both
- Do both
- At the same time
The preferred version is “either or both.” While it typically makes the sentence using “and/or” slightly longer, it’s still a great way to show that you are provided with two options. It’s up to the reader whether they choose both options or one of the two.
Either Or Both
“Either or both” is a great way we can use “and/or.” It is generally split up into comprehensible sections in a sentence (you won’t see the phrase “either or both” at the same point).
If we included “either of both” in a sentence, it might look like this:
- You can choose to do this thing or that thing, either or both.
However, this isn’t common practice in English. It does not show the user straight away that both options are available to them. That’s why we tend to break up the flow of the sentence and write it as follows:
- You can choose to do either this thing, that thing or both.
As you can see, “either,” “or,” and “both” are all included (and highlighted) in the example. However, none of the words are touching in the same way, which is common practice when you’re writing it in this form.
It will make more sense when you start to use it, and you’ll start to understand where “either” and “both” need to be placed to get the sentence to flow correctly.
- I would like to either see the show tomorrow, Tuesday or both. It really depends on how much I enjoy it.
- We can either go to work there, work from home or both. It’s up to you which one you think you’ll prefer.
- I can find out the results for either your math test, your geography, or both. I just need a little more time to do it!
“Do both” is another way we can show that there are multiple options and both are available. This is a great way to show people that they can do both options, and there is no limitation on that.
However, using “do” is almost seen as a commanding verb in this sense. Some people might mistake it as meaning that you have to “do both” things, whereas the idea is to show that they can choose to “do both” or choose only to do one.
To help clear up this issue, we usually make it more obvious in our writing. We can make the instruction much clearer, and it might help to see an example or two of how this instruction can look.
- You can do both things, but it is entirely up to you whether you want to do them.
- There are two options here. You can do both, but you do not have to.
- You have to at least choose one of these things to do. However, you can do both if you feel like it.
As you can see, the context allows us to be more specific about what people can and can’t do. While “do both” is valid, we also specify that it’s not their only option.
“Or” works well on its own to show that more than one option is available. When using “or” in this context, it’s known as an “inclusive or.” This allows us to pick one of the two options provided, but also allows us to choose them both if we want to.
“Or” works well even in formal writing, which is why we think it’s such a good choice for many people. Rather than worrying about using a symbol incorrectly or using “and/or” in the wrong context, you can just drop “and” completely.
- You can do this or that, and I won’t help you make your decision.
- I would like chicken or beef for dinner, and I noticed that you have both of them ready to go.
- We can use this method or that one, and I think it’s helpful to check them both out to see how they work.
“Or” works in the above examples to show that more than one option is available. It mostly depends on the reader and what they are willing to do.
“And” also works in the same way as “or.” We do not have to include both words in the symbol version because they already have the same definitions we expect of them.
“And” is usually much more obvious as a word when we want to do one or two things. It allows us to pick between things while also allowing us to choose them both if we thought that was wise.
- You can do this and that, and I won’t try to change your mind, no matter what you pick.
- You should try the duck and the vegan dish because they’re both fantastic options.
- I think he needs to get the qualification and the job before he realizes how hard they can be.
“Also” is synonymous with “and.” While it engages slightly differently with the sentences it’s in; it’s still a great choice for many people. It’s also suitable to replace “and/or” when you want to show that two options are available.
- You can try out this dish, but feel free to also give this one a go if you have the stomach for it.
- I think you can get those grades on that exam. I also think you can get them on this one.
- We need your help with the roofing. We also need you for the gutters.
“Either” is another example of a word that does not need an accompanying phrase to help it. It still specifies that two options are available, and it usually allows the reader to choose which of the two options work best for them (or do both).
- You should either try the spinach or the potatoes. If you can have both, I’d go for that.
- I can either get there on Friday or Saturday. If it’s fun, I’ll make sure to arrive on both days.
- We can do either six or seven. Both of those times work well for us.
“Andor” is an informal word that some people use. It’s exactly the same as “and/or,” but it removes the need for the symbol. Formally, you should avoid this phrase. However, it’s recognized as an option by informal writers if you need to.
- We can go to the cinema andor the ice rink. Whatever you fancy, I can make it happen.
- You should try the chicken andor the steak! Trust me; they’re both great.
- You can go there in February andor March, depending on how much you like it!
At The Same Time
“At the same time” is a great phrase we can use to show that things can happen simultaneously. The context and clues within the sentence usually show us that two things are acceptable, but it’s up to us if we only want to do one of those things instead.
- You can travel to that country or this one at the same time, as they both are covered by the same route.
- We should try the two dishes at the same time. That way, we’ll know more about which one is best for us.
- You can do those at the same time. No one is going to stop you from trying them!
Can You Use “And/Or” In Formal Writing?
Let’s quickly go back to the original phrase once more. We’ve mentioned it a few times, but we haven’t spoken about whether it’s correct in formal writing.
“And/or” does not belong in formal writing. While some people think it has value, the meanings of “and” and “or” are different and should be treated as such when writing any formal documents.
Therefore, you cannot use “and/or.” There’s also the issue of the forward-slash symbol in the middle of the two words. Since we don’t typically use symbols in formal writing (unless in extreme circumstances), we can’t really find a good way to use it in most cases.
To avoid any issues in formal writing, your best bet is to keep the two words separate. Alternatively, you can refer to any of the words we provided above to see which one works for you.
Is There A Space Between “And/Or”?
Finally, let’s look at how to punctuate the phrase if you do choose to use it.
You do not need to include a space between “and/or.” Keeping the two words together shows that they interact with each other and that you should use them to mean that you can do either thing or both, depending on what is most useful.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.