Let's consider the following question.

Enumerate all the persons in the following list who are male or American.

A) Male, French

B) Female, American

C) Male, German

D) Male, American

E) Female, Italian

Which is the correct answer: "A, B, C, D" or "A, B, C"?

  • Please explain the reason for the close vote. Otherwise I can't improve the question. – Makoto Kato Jan 27 '15 at 1:33
  • What is the language issue? I assume you understand what "or" means so it's not clear why you're uncertain of the correct answer. – ColleenV parted ways Jan 27 '15 at 2:19
  • I meant it as a leading question. You need to add more detail to your question, otherwise folks are going to tell you "look it up in a dictionary". I think your question would be better if you incorporated some of the thoughts you've expressed in your comments about whether "or" in this context means exclusively one or the other or if it means that "Male,American" meets the criteria. Right now your question reads as if you are trying to get us to do your homework (which I know you're not) and it could be better. – ColleenV parted ways Jan 27 '15 at 2:31
  • @ColleenV "I meant it as a leading question." Why do you think it is a leading question? "You need to add more detail to your question, otherwise folks are going to tell you "look it up in a dictionary"." Could you show me a dictionary which answers my question? – Makoto Kato Jan 27 '15 at 3:08
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    I'm afraid I do not get the subtlety of the question from your post either. Could you please explain a bit why you think OR here might be equivalent to the logical OR (exclusive)? – narengi Jan 27 '15 at 4:43

Let's just say that OR is inclusive (that is, it means one, the other, or BOTH) when it makes sense that both could be the case. If the options are "mutually exclusive" (i.e. one being true prevents the other from being true) then the OR is assumed to be exclusive (either...or).

Since in your example it is clearly possible to be both male and American, I think that option should be included. In ordinary English.

So yes, D) is part of the correct answer.

(If the exam was on Logic, it should have explicitly stated which kind of OR was meant.)

  • "i.e. one being true prevents the other from being true" In this case, there's no problem on the meaning of the word "or". The point of my question is whether the case D) should be included or not in the answer. – Makoto Kato Jan 27 '15 at 3:16
  • sorry, I thought that was clear when I said "inclusive", because Paul Senzee already mentioned. Fixing my answer. – Brian Hitchcock Jan 27 '15 at 3:42

Or in English is inclusive, that is, it would be A, B, C, D.

In programming one distinguishes between Inclusive (English-like) Or and Exclusive Or. Exclusive Or (xor) yields A, B, C in this case.

Exclusive Or in English is either .. or.

  • "Or in English is inclusive, that is, it would be A, B, C, D." Could you show some evidences for this claim of yours? – Makoto Kato Jan 27 '15 at 1:37
  • en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/or – Paul Senzee Jan 27 '15 at 1:40
  • It seems to me that the article just states the statement without showing an evidence. – Makoto Kato Jan 27 '15 at 1:53
  • It's the dictionary. What more evidence do you require? – Paul Senzee Jan 27 '15 at 1:55
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    In that context, I agree, it's exclusive. I'd consider it a shortened form of Either come inside or you'll catch cold. That's one thing about English - all the exceptions. – Paul Senzee Jan 27 '15 at 2:28

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