I have a simple problem basically I am unable to understand the meaning of some questions involving or/not, and using comma with and. I have the following questions:-

1.Whats the meaning of, say , X does not play football or cricket.

What we can infer from this. Can we say X does not play both of them? or one of them?

2.How the previous line is different from X does not play either football or cricket.

next is

3.If x does not play both of them, why in books such kind of statements are there instead of neither/nor.


4.whats the meaning of

M and N, who reads newspaper, are not sitting together.

Here, Do M and N, both reads newspaper?

Please clarify these things to me. I am not a native Englishman so I found it very difficult to understand and as in logical reasoning questions these statements are common to see I face lot of problems.

Please also tell me about such more things that can be confusing, may be, provide a link.

  • Just answered that question in a comment at Ling.SE. Short answer: De Morgan's Laws, – John Lawler Aug 7 '15 at 18:26
  • @JohnLawler Honestly, it seems to be the exact opposite answer because of the negation in the phrase. OR usually means XOR, but in this case it definitely means inclusive or. – Jeremy Aug 7 '15 at 18:34
  • Languages don't usually distinguish formally between OR and XOR. In English, as you say, it's whatever the context demands; and ordinarily it doesn't make any difference, because the FF case that distinguishes them is so seldom relevant. – John Lawler Aug 7 '15 at 19:05
  1. The meaning is that X does not play either of them. If you wanted to indicate he plays one of them, you'd say 'X plays football or cricket'. Logically either interpretation might be correct, but an English speaker knows it means "X does not play either" because one would not use that phrasing to indicate that X plays one of them. Why use a 'not' when it's not needed?

  2. It's not different.

  3. 'X plays neither football nor cricket' would be correct and doesn't even sound wrong, although it's a bit formal. It's just more words than is necessary.

  4. Your sentence is not correct because of your conjugation of 'to read'. Also, "newspaper" needs an article in front of it such as 'a' or 'the'. Check out this page on countable and uncountable nouns.

M and N, who read the newspaper, are not sitting together.


M and N, who are reading the newspaper, are not sitting together..

The first means they do sometimes read the newspaper, but we don't know if they are right now. The second would mean they are currently reading the newspaper.

  • M and N both are reading or just N? – OldSchool Aug 7 '15 at 18:13
  • Both. Any of those phrases would imply both. If you wanted to say one of them, you'd have to say something like 'M (and N, who reads the newspaper) are not sitting together'. If you said it out loud, that answer may vary. – Jeremy Aug 7 '15 at 18:29

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