For a sentence like this:

Copy of education credential, transcripts or proof of enrolment at a post-secondary educational institution

Does that mean

  1. A and (B or C)
  2. (A and B) or C
  3. A or B or C

or others?

Notes: I'm not asking if there should be a comma before 'or'. Instead I want to know what does the comma imply, 'and' or 'or'.

  • In the last sentence, if you mean "I want to know what a comma before 'or' would imply", then you should write that. If you mean what you say, then you are presumably referring to the comma after "credential", in which case you should change this post's title. Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 5:01

1 Answer 1


This sentence means (3): you only have to provide one of the three listed items.

Option (1) would be "Copy of education credential and either transcripts or proof of enrollment at a post-secondary educational institution"

Option (2) would look like "Either a copy of education credential and transcripts, (comma for clarity, not for grammar) or proof of enrollment at a post-secondary educational institution

If you are mixing and and or in a list, you have to be clear about which items fall into which categories. Unfortunately, not all instructions are as clear as they should be, but as a native English speaker, this one looks unambiguously like (3) to me.

  • Yes. if it was "do you want pork, beef, or lamb?" that would surely be unambiguous that you are expected to choose one of the three, so I don't know why the OP struggles with this.
    – Stuart F
    Commented May 25, 2023 at 13:08

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