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Example 1

I prefer women who cook good food, speak three languages, and go mountain hiking.

Example 2

I prefer women who cook good food, who speak three languages, and who go mountain hiking.

Do Example 1 and Example 2 have the same meaning?

I feel like they have the same meaning, and both of them can mean:

I prefer women who have all of the above three attributes.

and

As long as it is a woman who has one of the three attributes, I prefer her.

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  • this might be a case where replacing the commas with semicolons would help.
    – Yorik
    Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 20:29
  • You simply have to add "or", one way or another, to imply "or".
    – Fattie
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 14:18
  • How could they not have the same meaning?
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 17:26
  • 3
    Must the women possess one of these attributes or are you saying the women may possess one of these attributes.
    – EllieK
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 17:55
  • 3
    As an aside, I want to point out that some of the phrasing doesn't sound idiomatic to me (a native speaker). "Mountain hiking" sounds weird, although it's obvious what it means. I'd say "hiking in the mountains". "Cooks good food" is okay, but sounds like something a kid would say rather than an adult. I'd say "cooks well" or "is a good cook". Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 13:52

4 Answers 4

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Both of your sentences mean a woman must have all three attributes.

You were on the right track with repeating "who", but you needed to take it one step further by repeating "women who":

I prefer women who cook good food, women who speak three languages, and women who go mountain hiking.

This makes it clear you've got three separate preferences, and a woman who meets at least one of them may be acceptable.

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  • 7
    I would say what makes the difference between meaning all of them or any of them is the last conjunction: use "and" to say all of them, use "or" to say any. "I prefer women who cook, speak, and ride" vs "I prefer women who cook, speak, or ride"
    – whme
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 14:49
  • @whme That's what I was going to answer, but Kate Bunting beat me to it, so I gave this answer instead. I think Kate's "or" route is preferable because it's less wordy. I've upvoted it.
    – gotube
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 17:09
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    Though I agree with this answer's meaning, the proposed sentence feels colloquially awkward to me. Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 17:42
  • 2
    If the women must possess one of these attributes, I don't think your sentence works. If they must then we need an only or an either/or. Your sentence allows for women who eat artichokes to also be preferred while remaining unmentioned. I like dogs, cats, and elephants, does not exclude my liking llamas. I only like dogs, cats, and elephants, does.
    – EllieK
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 18:11
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    @EllieK-Don'tsupporther My version is exactly as clear in that regard as the original, which doesn't specifically exclude the possibility of other preferences. While we're being that precise, if I had excluded the possibility of artichoke-eating women, then it wouldn't have been in parallel with the OP's sentence or description.
    – gotube
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 18:24
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Yes, they do mean what you suggest. If you wanted to say that your ideal woman need only have one of those attributes, you would have to include the word or.

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  • My beloved partner has the first two attributes. She loves walking in the Lake District, I don't know if that counts. Counting her native language (English), she speaks four. Commented Nov 1, 2022 at 18:15
  • 3
    tbh - I think you need to leave off your first sentence because the OP seems to say the sentences have both meanings without changing to "or".
    – Mike M
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 2:15
  • 2
    My beloved partner says that she prefers men who 'don't have a check list'. Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 11:29
  • 2
    and/or would be more clear than just or, see my answer
    – Drake P
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 17:14
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    In a technical, legalistic sense, “and” does require all of the conditions in its list to be true. You can't start a fire without fuel, oxygen, and heat; and you can't run for President without being 35 years old and a natural-born US citizen. A person on a dating site may be a bit more flexible in their "checklist", though.
    – dan04
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 23:45
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Both sentences mean the same thing, that you prefer women with all 3 attributes. If you wanted to instead mean they need one or more qualities to be preferred, you'd use and/or:

Used as a function word to indicate that two words or expressions are to be taken together or individually

Example: language comprehension and/or reproduction

I would not recommend using just or, as this often (though not necessarily) carries the implication "one of these options, but not more than one":

used as a function word to indicate an alternative

Example: coffee or tea

A note about logical operators

A point of confusion for many is the difference between the logical operators AND and OR (and Exclusive OR (XOR)), versus the grammatical and and or. The logical operators mean the following:

  • AND: if all inputs are true, the output is true
  • OR: if at least one of the inputs is true, the output is true
  • XOR: if one of the inputs is true but not both of them, the output is true (I'm simplifying a bit here)

This is similar for and but not or in grammar:

  • and: if all inputs are true, the output is true, e.g. "did you do the dishes, clean your room, and take out the trash?" -> yes if you did all, no if you skipped any
    • and may also indicate a list, where all items are included, e.g. "I bought apples, oranges, and pears" -> you bought all of these
  • or: this usually means a list of alternative options where you pick one and only one, e.g. "do you want chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry ice cream?" -> you respond with which option you pick
    • sometimes people use it in the sense of logical OR, making it ambiguous which is meant

Note that or functions most similarly to XOR in this sense. If you want to unambiguously indicate one or more options are available, you use and/or, e.g. "your car may be ticketed and/or towed." It's worthwhile to mention and/or is somewhat informal, so you can replace it with "your car may be ticketed, towed, or both" in formal speech.

To summarize:

  • and means AND
  • or means XOR
  • and/or means OR

This leads to the common joke: "Would you like coke or pepsi?" "Yes!"

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  • 2
    Though, it's worth noting that n-ary xor is non-standard, and doesn't arise as the iteration of binary xor.
    – mudri
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 22:48
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    XOR is computer science / digital logic jargon. It's not commonly used in English.
    – dan04
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 23:38
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    Actually "XOR" comes from Boolean logic, a branch of mathematics, and was much later adopted by computer science. But in ordinary non-technical English or is ambiguous, it can mean either OR or XOR. Only context can indicate the difference Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 4:24
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"I prefer women who cook good food, women who speak three languages, and women who go mountain hiking." - One, two or three.

"I prefer women who cook good food, and women who speak three languages, and women who go mountain hiking." - One, two or three.

"I prefer women who cook good food, or speak three languages, or go mountain hiking." - One, two or three.

"I prefer women who either cook good food, or speak three languages, or go mountain hiking." - One, but not two or three because of "either". Bit strange to not like two or more.

"I prefer women who cook good food, speak three languages, and go mountain hiking." - All three.

"I prefer women who cook good food, who speak three languages, and who go mountain hiking." - All three. Slightly ambiguous, so someone might be Ok with one or two.

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    I would call the use of either with three things non-standard at best. Etymologically, either strongly implies a choice from two things. Commented Nov 4, 2022 at 11:49

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