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I don't like the bugs __ the snakes there.
Which conjunction should I use to fill in the above blank, and or or?
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Comments  
Either one sounds fine to me.

CJ
"And" should not join items when the sense is negative. (Common English Errors of Chinese Students, by David Bunton)
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Teo"And" should not join items when the sense is negative. (Common English Errors of Chinese Students, by David Bunton)

I don't like the bugs __ the snakes there.
Which conjunction should I use to fill in the above blank, and or or?

I agree with Teo; 'or' should be used.
On the other hand, if there are both bugs and snakes somewhere and I don't like them, it seems logical to say I don't like the bugs and the snakes there.
Hi,

Does this have anything to do with boolean algebra (De Morgan's law)?Emotion: smile

NOT (A or B) = NOT A and NOT B
NOT (A and B) = NOT A or NOT B

Best,
Hoa Thai
EDIT NOTE: According to De Morgan, when we say we don't like egg and cheese, we mean we don't like egg or we don't like cheese. On the orther hand, when we say we don't like egg or cheese, we mean we don't like egg and we don't like cheese.
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Does this have anything to do with boolean algebra (De Morgan's law)?
Only approximately, because in the world of formal logic, the or is always inclusive or, but in ordinary English, or is frequently exclusive or and less often inclusive or.

In the case at hand, it's more a matter of not liking two things separately or together.

I don't like bugs or snakes. = I don't like the bugs "separately" or the snakes "separately".
I don't like bugs and snakes. = I don't like bugs and snakes "together".

In this case, both amount to the same thing in practical terms, at least to my ear. The same may not be true of all such combinations of a negation with and and or.

CJ
Hi CaliJim,

I agree with you.

I asked the question to confirm my view. When people start talking binary stuff and bend the logic to fit the incalculably combinatory interactive world of ours, I often asks myself - what the future would look like when exact sciences are applied to defend faulty ideas?

I hope the author of the English textbook mentioned earlier did not rely on Boolean algebra for his thoughts. Here is my view:

In the binary world, where black and white is clearly defined and every state could discreetly be assigned with either 0 or 1, when one says, it is not zero, it must be 1, and vice versa. In our world, using the same logic, not bugs means everything else including snakes. Therefore:

- I don’t like bugs -> I like everything else including snakes.
- I don’t like snakes -> I like everything else including bugs.

To use fewer letters, let’s replace bugs with A, everything else with B, and snakes with C.

First, let’s combine I don’t like A and I don’t like C we would have:

I like B including C and I like B including A, which could be reduced to I like B including A and C, which could then be further reduced to I like everything!

Second, let’s combine I don’t like A or I don’t like C we would have:

I like B including C or I like B including A.

Using inclusive or, we could end up with I like B including A and C, which could then be further reduced to I like everything!

Using exclusive or (either one but not both), we end up saying I like B, but I don’t like B!

All of the results are nonsensical. Therefore, neither the Boolean logic nor the algebra operators are at fault. It is the faulty application of logic, equivalent to fitting the black hole into the 2-dimentional Euclidean world.

Having said that, I still wonder - in the negative context - whether or is more accurate than and, in principle? (Whatever that principle is, if there is one). Nevertheless, if or is the same as and, I think using or would gain the acceptance of the people who insist they are right – right?

Best Regards,
Hoa Thai
Having said that, I still wonder - in the negative context - whether or is more accurate than and, in principle?
Yes. I think so -- as long as the combination with and doesn't form a single conceptual unit. For example, even though or is probably more accurate in most cases, I wouldn't recommend using or in these sentences:

I don't like fish and chips.
I don't like spaghetti and meat balls.


because 'fish and chips' is the name of a particular dish -- a combination which is thought of as a unit. The same would be true of 'spaghetti and meat balls'.

Other than in cases like these, you're right. or is probably the better choice.

CJ
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