Can't I say "The child never smiles and laughs"?

Do I have to say, "The child never smiles or laughs"?

1 Answer 1


The answer depends on what you are trying to express, and it is difficult to interpret without greater context. For example,

The child never smiles and laughs.

may mean the child is never both smiling and laughing at the same time, or for example, it may mean the child never laughs after smiling (or never smiles before laughing).

The child never smiles or laughs.

on the other hand would generally be interpreted as equivalent to

The child never smiles and never laughs.

That is, the child does not ever smile or laugh, either together or independently of one another. This could be made even more explicit by phrasing as

The child neither smiles nor laughs, ever.

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