1. Why can't I hear and speak?


  1. Why can't I either hear or speak?

  1. Why can't I see any pictures on Facebook and YouTube?


  1. Why can't I see any pictures on either Facebook or YouTube.

1 and 3 sound good to me. Are all of them usable?

2 Answers 2


They're all valid, grammatically correct sentences.

Number 1 is ambiguous. Do you mean that you can't hear and you all can't speak? Or do you mean that you can do one or the other but not both? Like when you're using a radio, you push the button to speak and release it to listen. You can hear, or you can speak, but you can't hear AND speak.

Likewise, in context number 3 might mean that you are asking why there are no pictures on Facebook where the same picture is also found on YouTube. But my first assumption on hearing the question would be that you cannot see any pictures on Facebook, and you also cannot see any pictures on YouTube, that is, that there is something wrong with your computer or that both these web sites are having problems.

  • I mean "Why don't I hear and speak" (Why don't I have the ability to hear and speak) Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 18:25

In English, "or" is the so-called inclusive "or," equivalent to the Latin "vel."

A or B

means "A and not B," or "B and not A," or "both A and B." That is a simple "or" may indicate any one of three mutually exclusive conditions.

In Latin and other languages, there is also an exclusive "or," in Latin "aut ... aut" constructions, where

aut A aut B

means either "A but not B" or else "B but not A" and excludes "A and B."

This exclusive "or" indicates one of two mutually exclusive conditions.

Some people use "either A or B" in an exclusive sense, but this usage is not uniform.

Others use "A or else B" in an exclusive sense, and some use "either A or else B" in an exclusive sense.

Personally, I prefer "either A or else B" to be as clear as possible when I intend an exclusive meaning.

When you are talking about negations the problem is clearer; there is an unambiguous way to say "not A and not B," which sounds awkward in English. Instead, use "neither A nor B."

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