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I want to say that in my city there is no university. In addition, there is no college. Which sentence is correct?

  1. In my city there is no university and college
  2. In my city there is no university or college

I know it might be very basic but I really hadn't given it much thought! Now I feel I have been using these conjunctions very recklessly so far! I have a gut feeling that the second one is correct. I just feel better when I say "university or college", but I do not know why this is!

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  • 8
    If you are familiar with mathematical logic, it is essentially De Morgan's Law.
    – user253751
    Jul 27 at 11:36
  • @user253751 I missed your comment, but I just added the same thing as an answer.
    – bdsl
    Jul 27 at 12:42
  • The logical justification for "or" is that the sentence is a contraction of "... there is no institution which is either a university or a college". Saying "... there is no institution which is both a university and a college" means something different.
    – alephzero
    Jul 27 at 16:33
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    @Mari-LouA In Persian, we normally use "or" in this context. However, while we speak we can use both conjunctions with the same meaning based on the intonation. I mean I can chunk the words in a way that the first and the second sentences mean the same. In my city there is NO university and college. Actually I say "no" strongly and loudly to emphasis then hesitate before I say "university and college"
    – a.toraby
    Jul 28 at 7:41
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    That piece of information would make a very interesting and valid addition to the question!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 28 at 7:44
18

The second version is correct although there are other alternatives. The first one doesn't mean what you want to convey.

So for the first one to have the meaning you want you need to repeat the "no":

1 . In my city there is no university and no college

And the second, while correct, can also be expressed as

2a. In my city there is neither a university nor a college

2b. In my city there is no university nor college

2b being less common - so you might be best sticking to your original 2

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  • 4
    "Or" can definitely be used in negative phrases.
    – gotube
    Jul 27 at 5:18
  • You're right! I'll edit Jul 27 at 5:30
  • Also, "university and college" implies to me that they come in pairs. Jul 27 at 13:19
  • 2a. probably requires an article: "In my city there is neither a university nor a college". 2b as well, for "college". I think "no" acts somewhat like a negative article here, so you need either "no" or "a".
    – chepner
    Jul 27 at 14:32
  • "nor" is usually used along with "neither", e.g. "There is neither a university nor a college".
    – Barmar
    Jul 27 at 14:32
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"In my city there is no university or college" is correct.

"No college or university" means the same as: "both no college and no university".

"No college and university" is awkward, and it means your city might have either a college or a university, but not both.

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This isn't really an English Language and Usage answer, but we do the same thing in formal logic, where it's called De Morgan's laws: (not A) and (not B) is equivalent to not (A or B).

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    English usage is not always consistent with mathematical logic. Students doing "word problems" in math sometimes discover this the hard way!
    – alephzero
    Jul 27 at 16:31
  • Indeed - and I see and hear lots of usages in English that don't follow the De Morgan's rules. But I think it works here.
    – bdsl
    Jul 27 at 21:58
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    Good thing this isn't the English Language and Usage site then. Phew!
    – gotube
    Jul 28 at 4:28

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