English language usage has some logical word pairs including:

  • Or | Nor
  • Either | Neither
  • With | Without

But there doesn't seem to be an opposition to the word "and". In computer engineering and Boolean logic, this is referred to as a "nand" operation.

For example, if I were to say "I eat pancakes when they have bananas nand strawberries in them," then what I want to communicate is that:

  • I will eat a pancake with bananas
  • I will eat a pancake with strawberries
  • I will eat a pancake with neither bananas nor strawberries
  • I won't eat a pancake with specifically both bananas and strawberries

Is there an equivalent of the boolean operand nand in the English language (or a short phrase and not just a rearranging of the sentence)? Essentially, not how to say the phrase with the same meaning, but if there's a short phrase or word that conveys the same meaning. This question intends "to be less about the missing 'nand' word and more about how to express the condition it represents" (Chris Subagio).

  • 4
    For whatever the reasons I don't think it's the best word for it as it could cause confusion when spoken and the first word ends in n: You are permitted a pen nand paper. Nor tends to be preceeded with neither so you usually know it's coming but nand presumably wouldn't be.
    – Avon
    Jul 7 '15 at 21:49
  • 1
    Because we say "don't have" rather than "have (this nand that)"
    – TRomano
    Jul 7 '15 at 22:12
  • 1
    I’d be more likely to say that I don’t like strawberries and bananas together in my pancakes.
    – Jim
    Jul 7 '15 at 22:13
  • 6
    The word would be useless since English doesn't have Boolean logic.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 7 '15 at 22:20
  • 3
    Just as a NAND gate has two components (an AND gate with an inverter on its output), so English doesn't have a construction that makes this simple. To be understood, you'd end up expressing the combination of OR and NOR: "I'll eat a pancake with bananas or strawberries, even plain, but not both."
    – Paul Rowe
    Jul 8 '15 at 13:28

I would use unless/both:

"I eat pancakes unless they have both bananas and strawberries in them."


Probably the best would be "I will eat a pancake, as long as it doesn't contain both bananas and strawberries."

This is a bit awkward, because there isn't really a specific English word for this concept. In fact you can tell that there isn't really one simply because they had to make up a word for it in the computer realm. Nearly all such computer terms were created by English speakers, so they use English terms. For example, the father of the particular ("boolean") algebraic system you are talking about was English Mathematician George Boole.

Mathematicly "as long as it doesn't contain both ..." is equivalent to saying "not (A and B)", which is of course where the name for the nand operation came from.

  • 1
    This made me realize this got reopened :D And good point on the word origin; if there was one it'd probably be called that and not nand. Jul 20 '15 at 15:25

"It's cloudy or it's sunny" [A OR B] has the inverse "It is not cloudy and not sunny." [not A AND not B]. This, as you say, can be rephrased, "It is neither cloudy nor sunny." [A NOR B]

"It's cloudy and it's raining" [AND] can be negated "It's not cloudy or it's not raining," [not A OR not B] which is the result using DeMorgan's. But you're right, there's no way to say, "It's neither cloudy nand raining," and have it mean that either A or B is not true, or that both A and B are not true. We DeMorgan's it into an OR statement of some sort.

If there's a combination of two or fewer terms for "neither" and "nand" that you can insert into "It's ____ cloudy ___ raining" that implies that one or both is not true, then you'd have your "nand." But it doesn't exist, and if you tried to coin it, you'd likely end up explaining what you mean with a more natural and longwinded OR statement.

  • 2
    Conceivably that would be "It's not cloudy and or raining", which is what I use, and I think actually conveys the meaning in question despite parsing incorrectly as Boolean logic. I've also said "It's neither cloudy and or raining", which sounds better to my ear, but is more often confused. Full disclosure: when I'm feeling belligerent, I do say, "well, it's neither cloudy and nor raining" for the extra emphasis on that second 'n' in nor, but that really flabbergasts people. Jul 8 '15 at 3:56
  • @ChrisSubagio Not sure that covers the situation when it is cloudy but not raining to my ear. The problem in English may be best expressed by what you and I are trying to do... use two "natural" conjunctions-- and/or-- to express what nand expresses in one. The cases 00 01 10 are simply difficult to convey succinctly.
    – stevesliva
    Jul 8 '15 at 16:47

You say:

It is much simpler to say "I eat pancakes when they have bananas nand strawberries in them" than to say "I eat pancakes when they don't have both strawberries and bananas in them."

Why not say:

"I eat pancakes when they haven't strawberries and bananas in them."

That is simpler than your second sentence and doesn't require extra vocabulary.

  • 2
    Because that wouldn't come across as the same thing. That sounds like he doesn't accept bananas or strawberries on his pancakes, which is untrue. He accepts only either alone, or neither at all. The only thing he objects to is both at the same time. Jul 8 '15 at 3:34
  • 4
    So put a both in the sentence. "I don't eat pancakes with both strawberries and bananas."
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 14 '15 at 22:15

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.