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Some students experience certain difficulties with using “and” and “or” in the sentence because they do not fully realize the main functions of these words. Despite the common belief, both conjunctions “and” and “or” indicate totally different meanings. As such, the conjunction “and” is used to join two or more concepts, while the conjunction “or” is used to emphasize the exclusivity of the concept. The following examples will help you to understand this better:
After graduation, John and Laura want to visit France and Spain.
After graduation, John and Laura want to visit France or Spain.
It is obvious that in the first case, John and Laura are planning to visit both countries, while the use of “or” in the second sentence clearly indicates that the couple wants to visit one country, but they haven`t decided yet which one exactly.
Additional Words, Making Everything Clear
In order to emphasize the role of both conjunctions in the sentence, one may use the words “both” and “either” respectively. These words serve for the strengthening of the role of both conjunctions in a sentence.
After graduation, John and Laura want to visit both France and Spain.
After graduation, John and Laura want to visit either France or Spain.
An Alternative Variant
As for the alternative meanings, one should mention about the “and/or” option. The sentence with such an option sounds as following:
After graduation, John and Laura want to visit France and/or Spain.
Using such an option means that the decision is not made, and the circumstances will show which option will be more preferable – visit one country or both. Such an option is used when the author is uncertain about the statement and does not want to provide the reader with the irrelevant information. Besides, such an option is used when the final decision is yet to be taken.
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