And/Or: Is It Acceptable?

October 28th, 2021 in Grammar by April Michelle Davis 0

Though many pieces of writing include “and/or,” it seems that writers cannot make up their minds about what they mean to say so they will just include several choices. This way, the reader can stumble over the multiple choice words and select the appropriate one.

In The Careful Writer, Theodore Bernstein says, “this combination is a visual and mental monstrosity.” He goes on to say that there are situations where one conjunction or the other will not suffice. In those cases, Bernstein recommends that the sentence be rewritten to include “or both” at the end. However, he does point out that by using “or,” “it would accommodate observers abroad who thought one thing or the other, and certainly would not exclude those who thought both.”

Some writers may think that Bernstein is outdated, but in looking at other recommendations, many people still agree with his thinking, as shown on E-Write.

  • The Writing Styleguide and Dictionary of Plain English advises writers to avoid using “and/or” where either “and” or “or” will do.
  • The UC Berkeley iNew Style Guide tells writers to avoid “and/or”, and to use “or.”
  • The American Chemical Society’s Style Guide places “and/or” under the heading “Words and Phrases To Avoid,” stating that writers should replace “and/or” with either “and” or “or,” depending on their meaning.
  • In the American Anthropological Association’s Style Guide, the “and/or” advice is simple: “never use.”
  • The APA Research Style Crib Sheet says, “Do not use ‘and/or.’”