2

Are these sentences correct?

  • I haven’t got freckles and glasses.
  • She hasn’t got straight, blond hair and freckles.
  • He hasn’t got glasses and freckles.

Can I use and with negative sentences with haven’t got or hasn’t got?

Is it correct? Or should I use or?

migrated from english.stackexchange.com Jan 30 '17 at 23:17

This question came from our site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts.

  • 2
    Hello and welcome. Both and and or produce grammatically correct sentences. Whether you should use one or the other depends on what you're trying to convey. Note also that the use of conjunctions in English is somewhat more fluid than the use of similarly-named operators in formal logic. – Lawrence Jan 29 '17 at 15:11
  • 1
    In the strictest sense, "nor" is the word you want, and "got" is unnecessary. Context matters here though, because no one really talks like that. – Tony Jan 29 '17 at 16:18
  • Yes, you can use and as you did. Or you can use or. The meaning is different. If you say that you do not have freckles and glasses you may still have either freckles or glasses. If you say that you do not have freckles or glasses that usually means that you do not have either, i.e., you have neither. – Drew Jan 29 '17 at 17:32
  • 1
    I'd say it, "I don't have glasses or freckles." "He doesn't have freckles or glasses." I am in North America, the UK may well be different. – WRX Jan 30 '17 at 23:23
1

Although correct, your sentences are very laboriously constructed and outside of quoting actual speech, they are difficult to read. I would use 'nor' and create a negative sentence.

I have neither freckles nor glasses.

  • If one says they don't have freckles and glasses, it creates a sort of logic loophole where this could be interpreted to mean that you don't have both, but you can have one or the other. If the intended meaning is that you don't have either, then "I have neither freckles nor glasses" is the best way to express this. Contrarily, if you do mean to say you don't have both, then you must explicitly state "both" to be clear. "I haven't got both freckles and glasses." – Neil Nov 22 '18 at 9:23
0

You want "or."

While those sentences are correctly constructed, they would parse as "not having both of: [freckles, glasses]." You might see them as a slightly silly response to a question like "Have you seen a girl with straight, blond hair and freckles?" In most cases though, they would just sound odd, and listeners would probably assume you meant "or."

An additional note: One comment suggested "nor" instead. While that is the most correct answer, it is very difficult to use correctly and not sound awkward.

0

I'll start by saying that I'm not a native speaker so I don't prefer "haven't got" over "don't have" or vice versa so both are possible.

As for the difference between "and" and "or", it is basically the same as in binary logic.

  • I don't like eating and speaking. (I don't like to speak while I'm eating or to eat while I'm speaking)
  • I don't like eating or speaking. (I don't like eating. I don't like speaking)

With your sentences the logic works in a similar way (are the units in the list rendered as a single unit or as separate units?):

  1. I haven’t got freckles and (or) glasses.
  2. She hasn’t got straight, blond hair and (or) freckles. (I would place "freckles" first in the list)
  3. He hasn’t got glasses and (or) freckles.
0

As logical statements, those statements are totally ambiguous as to whether or not the speaker possesses any of those traits; it only denies that speaker having all of them. Which makes it a largely useless statement.

If one wishes to declare that they posses none of those traits, you need an "or".

"I haven't got a hammer or nails" is fine, though pretty informal. "I have neither hammer nor nails" is fine, but stiff. "I don't have a hammer or nails" is most common and comfortable.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy