or vs. and

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or vs. and

Post by azz » Wed Jan 30, 2019 9:44 am

a.They gave twenty Colombian and Brazilian authors prizes.
b. They gave twenty Colombian or Brazilian authors prizes.

c. They gave twenty authors, Colombian and Brazilian, prizes.
d. They gave twenty authors, Colombian or Brazilian, prizes.


Which of the above are grammatically correct?

Do they all mean the same?

I'd say in (a) we have twenty authors, some of whom are Brazilian and some Colombian. In (b) the speaker doesn't know whether the authors were Brazilian or Colombian. In (c) we have the same situation as in (a) and (d) we could have the same situation we have in (b)… Maybe (d) could have other meanings... I think it could probably mean the same as (a).

Many thanks.
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Re: or vs. and

Post by Shelley » Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:31 pm

Hi azz,

Sentence A is by far the most grammatically correct, in my opinion. I would switch things up a little, though:

"They gave prizes to twenty Colombian and Brazilian authors."

See, you don't want to separate your verb(?) and subject(?)/object(?) from each other by too many words. It sounds better to link up "prizes" with the action of "them" giving (the prizes). Unfortunately, I wasn't paying attention too well when they taught us parsing sentences, but I know what I like. The main thing is to use as few words as possible to impart the most information as possible.

With regard to the "and"/"or" choice in your examples: to me, "and" works best because you are talking about the authors collectively -- as a group -- and the group is made up of Columbians and Brazilians. When you say "or", it makes me want to think about the authors as individuals -- which one is Columbian and which one is Brazilian -- and that leads me to want to know which/how many of the twenty prizes went to which/how many of the Columbians vs. the Brazilians. It becomes complicated.

There are lots of ways to move these words around: They gave twenty prizes to either Columbian or Brazilian authors (for example). Just remember, "They gave prizes . . . " is your main idea.

I should add there are others here who know a lot more about this than I do. They know the lingo, so to speak.

Ok. End of lecture. Everybody go out and play.
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Re: or vs. and

Post by azz » Wed Jan 30, 2019 10:55 pm

Thank you so much for the brilliant reply.

Linking the verb and the direct object is a great improvement. That is just great and makes the sentences flow a lot better.

I think the 'or' sentences are ambiguous really. Maybe all of them were Brazilian or Colombian but the speaker doesn't know which is the case?

e. They gave twenty prizes to Colombian or Brazilian authors. I don't know which.

f. They gave prizes to twenty authors, Colombian or Brazilian. I don't know which.

e. They gave prizes to either Colombian or Brazilian authors. I don't know which.

f. They gave prizes to twenty authors, either Colombian or Brazilian. I don't know which.


This 'or' causes me problems in all the languages I know!!! One never knows if it is exclusive or inclusive or what!!!

Many thanks.
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