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when I say "he does something that is not good or serious" what do I mean by that

  • He does something that is not good and is not serious
  • He does something that is not good and is serious

the adjective after or is it also negative ?

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  • You haven't used 'or' in your examples! The negative of 'or' is 'nor'. Nov 9, 2023 at 9:14
  • I think you want to say "He does something that is neither good nor serious."
    – philphil
    Nov 9, 2023 at 10:18

3 Answers 3

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Not A or B generally means neither A nor B. Consider

In many states in the US, voters who are not registered Democrats or [registered] Republicans cannot vote in primary elections.

But it’s not as unambiguous as the neither-nor version. It’s possible for the not to bind only to the A rather than to the entire disjunction. Here’s an example:

I wonder why the baby isn’t interested in her bottle. I guess she’s either not hungry or sleepy.

But note that in that example, the either is nearly mandatory. Without the either, the phrase strongly invites interpretation as a neither-nor. And then the pragmatics kicks in and flags that interpretation as odd and thus unlikely.

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The negative of "or" is "nor".

So your sentence is

  • "He does something that is neither good nor serious"
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  • I’m a student and this is a question in my book . Is the sentence grammatically wrong ?
    – smile
    Nov 9, 2023 at 11:29
  • Then, repeat the question of your book literally.
    – philphil
    Nov 9, 2023 at 11:38
  • if a person does the something that is not good or serious ,that means they are < naughty _ cruel > I can’t answer because I don’t understand the correct translation
    – smile
    Nov 9, 2023 at 13:56
  • @smile there is no word for or in your language?? that is not good, that is not serious.
    – Lambie
    Nov 9, 2023 at 15:28
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He does something that is not good or is not serious.

It's one or the other. He does something that is not good. He does something that is not serious.

He eats hamburgers or hotdogs at picnics. Not both.

You can translate the word or into your language and it will yield the same thing.

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