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Punctuation - when did either/or become either / or?

(29 Posts)
SwedishEdith Mon 06-May-19 19:05:39

When did / get a space before and after? I was reminded of it by another thread title (myself / yourself rather than myself/yourself) but I've noticed it for a while now.

It's definitely a recent change and I wonder why? Is it because it's easier to read on phone screens?

DadDadDad Wed 08-May-19 14:11:11

Ah, the old either / or / either/or debate -- or is it the either / or/either/or debate? grin

Personally, the space helps readability, so why not? No spaces looks like a web address.

MsMightyTitanAndHerTroubadours Wed 08-May-19 14:13:25

My phone leaves a space sometimes. Not my doing.

The lack of will to correct it is entirely down to me though. Even if I still double space after a full stop.

MrsMozartMkII Wed 08-May-19 14:15:29

I tend to leave the gaps when on my phone, otherwise it messes up the line breaks.

NoBaggyPants Wed 08-May-19 14:16:20

I do love a double space after a full stop!

BlackPrism Wed 08-May-19 14:16:31

When autocorrect started changing things without a space

thelastgoldeneagle Wed 08-May-19 14:18:32

Autocorrect. There should be no space before or after a slash.

DadDadDad Wed 08-May-19 14:21:56

@thelastgoldeneagle - why's that?

Favabeanpyramidscheme Wed 08-May-19 14:24:08

I’m a solicitor and I can remember my boss introducing this to our department about 10 years ago! It was acknowledged to be grammatically incorrect but it prevents unattractive formatting and is clearer to read. I’ve recently been rebelling in my private life by doing it the old fashioned way with no spaces. Feels good 😂

TeenTimesTwo Wed 08-May-19 14:27:30

If typing I leave spaces because of automatic line breaks.
If Hand writing I wouldn't leave a space.

DadDadDad Wed 08-May-19 14:29:01

By why is it "grammatically incorrect"? on whose authority?

It's only a feature of written language (and I don't really see it as a grammar point), and surely we as writers and readers can change the rules if it makes something easier to read. I honestly don't get this view that because some fusty English teacher believed it 50 years ago, that it a truth graven in stone. <rant over> shock

TeenTimesTwo Wed 08-May-19 14:45:52

Exactly, things change.
Like paragraphs being delineated by a blank line, rather than an indentation.
Or Oxford commas.
Or meanings of words like enormity.

DadDadDad Wed 08-May-19 14:50:59

Or sentences that have 'Or' at the start and no main verb. wink

babysharkah Wed 08-May-19 14:53:25

Woah, I'm a pedant but I have so many issues before spaces before a black slash that I can't get excited. Have or of being the biggest one.

thelastgoldeneagle Wed 08-May-19 15:33:24

@DadDadDad, see section 14.3.1 of New Hart's Rules: 'a solidus is generally closed up, both when separating two complete words and between parts of a word'.

Why introduce a space before or after? It makes text less easy to understand, generally. We don't have a space before any other punctuation - colon, semicolon, comma, so why before a solidus?? If I saw a solidus by itself between two words it would be jarring. It would look wrong. I'm not a fan of changing things for the sake of change.

Exactly, things change.
Like ... Oxford commas.

How have Oxford commas changed, TeenTimesTwo?

TeenTimesTwo Wed 08-May-19 15:42:37

Well, I was always taught you don't put a comma before the penultimate thing in a list.
Then I learned that it was an OK thing to do and was called an 'Oxford comma'.
I may be wrong. I don't belong in this section being a mathematician (and not having much to do with Oxford).

DadDadDad Wed 08-May-19 15:59:06

Well, Hart, whoever he is (even if he's the new one) ain't the boss of me! smile And even he says "generally". I don't think it's true that we never have a space before punctuation: what about a dash?

Clearly it's subjective, but I disagree that it makes it less easy to understand to put in the spaces.

We've still not agreed about what entertainment we're going to have: the choice is Sketches written by Chekhov/Venezuelan Zombie-Night TV/Zambian Zoological Views. Those slashes are harder to spot especially if they were handwritten. shock

DadDadDad Wed 08-May-19 16:02:36

T^3 - don't go! We mathematicians should be welcome on Pedants' Corner, because being pedantic about definitions and rules is in our blood.

I'm happy to have rules in grammar and punctuation, but I want to know the logic behind them, not just believe them because Professor Hart says so.

RedForShort Wed 08-May-19 16:02:43

With or without a space either/or is pretty pointless isn't it?

RedForShort Wed 08-May-19 16:04:24

(I've a strong dislike of the slash. When I rule the world it'll be illegal. No more and/or either.)

MikeUniformMike Wed 08-May-19 16:06:08

just write or

Acis Wed 08-May-19 16:06:33

I can't see how it helps readability. Rather the reverse, if anything.

And I was taught to put three spaces after full stops ...

DadDadDad Wed 08-May-19 16:16:16

As I say, it's clearly subjective.

I'm just struggling to understand why (per Mike's suggestion)

boiled, fried or scrambled

is fine (with spaces necessary after the comma and around the word or) but somehow

boiled / fried / scrambled

is harder to read with spaces. confused

RedForShort Wed 08-May-19 16:39:07

The spaces can improve readability for people with dyslexia. Less clutter around the words.

Unless the space is too big. Then, like a double space after a full stop and justified text, there's too much white space between words!

thelastgoldeneagle Wed 08-May-19 17:03:27

Well, I was always taught you don't put a comma before the penultimate thing in a list.
Then I learned that it was an OK thing to do and was called an 'Oxford comma'.

Yeah, or a serial comma. Common in the USA, not so much in the UK. That's a matter of style. And it can also be a matter of sense and clarity:

I'd like to thank my parents, God and the Queen - not good.

I'd like to thank my parents, God, and the Queen - makes more sense. But then it's not called an Oxford comma, it's just called a comma.

But do stay in pedants' corner! Who says mathematicians don't belong?!

DadDadDad, NHR is part of the Oxford Style Guide, a bible for writers and editors. If you're writing or editing and have a query about something, you can usually find the answer there. It's good to have an authority to show to clients to explain why you've made a certain decision.

And come on, the dash - or en rule - is the only punctuation we have a space before!

There's actually not a hard and fast rule for a lot of grammar issues in British English. Often, the answer is a matter of style, and depends on the reader, the context and the text you're working on.

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