OK, so the title sounds more like a cryptic crossword clue rather than something that explains my question, so please feel free to make it into something more sensible if you can (and remove this sentence)...

Let's say we have two items, the items do not matter but for this example let's say the first is "fish" and the second is "chips".

If I were serving these items I might ask one of the following questions:

"Would you like fish or chips?" - implying that they could only choose one or the other.

"Would you like fish and chips?" - implying that they could only have both items together.

Now the question: Is there a word (or two) that could replace and/or in the above sentences that would imply that they can choose to have fish only, both fish and chips, or neither of them, but not chips only?

To try and clarify my requirements, here is the original example that inspired me to seek out an answer...

Originally I read the following sentence on StackOverflow (a different SE site for those that don't know):

You should probably use javascript or jQuery to accomplish this

The problem I find with this sentence is that "jQuery" is a javascript library and cannot exist without "javascript", therefore the "or" is technically inaccurate. However, to replace the "or" with "and" would also be inaccurate because you could choose only "javascript" as "jQuery" is optional (it would just make it easier). And, of course, neither can be chosen.

  • 1
    Can I serve you some fish with or without fries?
    – mplungjan
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 14:19
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    This is unrelated and pedantic, but when you say "If I was serving ..." it would be better to say "If I were serving...". This is because your 'if' puts the sentence into the subjunctive mood. Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 14:20
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    As I am not a common user over here, could somebody explain the downvotes? I fail to see how this question doesn't fit in with the "help" guidelines. Specifically, Questions on the following topics are welcomed here: Word choice and usage.
    – musefan
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 14:33
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    Concentrating on the why is exactly right. "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face." Splitting the questions into two is the answer to the practical problem of how to ask in the real-world situation which (presumably) you are facing. If this is not the problem you have, you should have asked about that instead.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 14:49
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    @AndrewLeach: But I didn't ask the question "How can I ask a customer if they want fish, and optional have chips with it?". I asked, "Is there a word (or two) that could replace and/or..."
    – musefan
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 14:55

5 Answers 5


In the real example,

You should probably use javascript or jQuery to accomplish this

you can achieve the objective by reversing the order and adding a couple of words to emphasise the difference:

You should probably use jQuery or just plain JavaScript to accomplish this.

Thus jQuery implies JavaScript; you could have JavaScript without jQuery; or neither.

  • I have accepted this answer on the basis that there is no "alternative word" that could be used instead of and/or, and as per my original question, I was looking for the best way to alter the sentence as a backup. If somebody invents (or discovers) a word then let me know ;-)
    – musefan
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 15:03

Converting comment to answer

Can/May I serve you some fish with or without chips?

UPDATE: Would of course have been lovely to have seen the original reason for the question since I have A LOT more experience with JavaScript/jQuery than fish&chips

Since JavaScript is built-in whatever device that could run jQuery, the sentence Andrew wrote, is understandable by anyone versed in the art.
jQuery is a JavaScript library so the or relates only to plain JavaScript or vanilla.js as some people like to call it now

  • 1
    I feel that this would prompt a second repeat of the "with or without chips?" part if the person said "yes"... but perhaps it is the simplest way to achieve my requirements.
    – musefan
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 14:29
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    I would answer: Yes please, with chips
    – mplungjan
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 14:36

This is not a word to use, but a convention, and not as clear when spoken, but I would write:

You should probably use javascript (possibly along with jQuery) to accomplish this.


Converting comment to answer:

You could phrase it this way:

"You can choose Y if you have X."
"If you have X, you can choose to get Y".


You could describe this process as an incremental choice. You are making a base choice (whether or not to use javascript) and then a choice about whether to add a supplement (whether or not to add jQuery to the use of javascript).

The implication is that you cannot make the second choice unless you affirmatively make the first choice.

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