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Using “and/or” In Our Contracts

laura's contract tips Mar 25, 2024

English grammar rules provide that “and/or” means one or more of a list. “ So, “A, B, C, and/or D” means it could be just A, A+B, A+C+D, or any other combination.

I’ll confess to you. I’m an “and/or” hater.

Maybe if contract drafters used “and/or” correctly every time, I wouldn't have such hostility. But I’ve found most uses of “and/or” are not correct. People mess it up. A lot.

And I don’t think we mess it up because we are lazy. I think we mess it up because we are too busy. We have limited time and other priorities that require our attention and focus.

We simply don’t have time to sit and ponder the whole “and/or” dynamic each time we use it.

I see “and/or” as the equivalent of toddlers who require all your attention whenever they are around. Each “and/or” usage requires deep thinking to make sure is it appropriate in that context.

So when I mean "one or more" of a long list, I just say that. It is a lot easier to simplify than spend time in deep thought about whether “and/or” works in this context.

Say what you mean. Don’t use words that are a frequent source of confusion and require extra work.

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