With negation, or is motly used.

He doesn't like this or that.

But with without, I see both forms.

When I searched CCAE, it returned result with both or and and.

Like this:

I was there without food and water.

I was there without food or water.

I can see that both forms are used, but what's the difference between without with and and without with or? Is it that "food and water" is considered a thing in unity?

It was what most people said, but I don't think the texts with "and" actaully mean that. It is not even logical, is it? Water and food are separate. Even if you try to refer to them as a thing in unity, or as a one thing, can you possibly understand it that way?


It depends on context, but both "and" or "or" can be used with "with" and "without".

I was there with food and water.
I was with both

I will be there with (either) food or water.
I will be with one or the other

If you said

I was with food or water.

it would be confusing since it happened in the past and so the result should be known, if you added some context

I was with food or water, I just can't remember right now.

it can make sense but still a struggle using "food" and "water" since one assumes you would remember something as simple as "food" or "water".

If you used "Jane" and "John"

I was with Jane or John, I can't remember right now.

the example makes more sense.


Bread and water is an idiom meaning figuratively the most minimal meal possible. (Originated from a meal given to prisoners).

Wilbur knew that if he got in trouble again it would be at least a year on bread and water. This dinner is terrible again. I would rather have bread and water!

If you dont think of the noun phrase as a unity,you can use or.

Perhaps I can do without one thing or the other.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.