a/b  =   a or b 
     =   a and b 

Or this can mean anything as per context .

Do we use "/" symbols in English and what is its meaning ?

  • The mark has indeed much currency in the anglophone world, and many various meanings. Except in some specialized usages, we can vocalize it as the word "slash," though I imagine that sounds even uglier to British ears than to American ones. (Exceptions include arithmetical notation, in which case pronounce as "divided by" or "over," and notation for pre-1971 British currency, in which case pronounce as "and" [or just 'n'].) And in some of the most common usages, such as "and/or," it is not vocalized at all. Dec 19, 2016 at 19:40
  • 1
    At word level the slash / usually means "or".
    – BillJ
    Dec 19, 2016 at 19:55
  • I would read "a slash b", if there were no context to imply a different interpretation.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 19, 2016 at 20:07
  • "a/b" without specific context "should" be mathematical, not really English. In English, mathematical "a/b" becomes " A over B", meaning "A divided by B." What's the context, please? Aug 14, 2020 at 1:45

2 Answers 2


There are three common ways to pronounce this:

  1. A or B
  2. A slash B
  3. A B

Examples of each usage:

Choose an appropriate option: A/B

Choose an appropriate option: A or B

Type A/B into your console

Type A-slash-B into your console

I went to an AC/DC concert last night.

I went to an AC DC concert last night.

I do not know of a situation where you would say "A and B".

  • 3
    There are a few others, but they depend on context. In math, this could be read "a divided by b" or "a over b". I've also heard "a upon b" used for that sense as well, but it was from a very elderly professor and is almost certainly archaic. In the special case where a and b are numbers, e.g. 3/5, then this is pronounced as a fraction ("three fifths").
    – PMV
    Dec 19, 2016 at 23:56

Another common way of reading this, in scientific or mathematical contexts, would be "a over b".

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