I'd like to get an idea of when it is appropriate to use different expressions for expressing disjunction (of the inclusive AND exclusive variety).

「AとBとCの中で...」、「どちら」、and 「か」 come to mind, but I think they have situational usage (that I'm not entirely aware of). 「か」 seems somewhat awkward, 「どちら」 is limited to a decision between two things, and so forth. How would an inclusive or be expressed ('A or B' as opposed to 'either A or B')?

  • 1
    Welcome to JLU! This is a good fundamental question. I'm surprised no one asked this here before >___<
    – Lukman
    Sep 23, 2011 at 13:38
  • 2
    Your AとBの中で is not completely grammatical. 中で is used for more than two alternatives.
    – user458
    Sep 23, 2011 at 15:49

2 Answers 2


Natural languages usually have exclusive disjunction. In order to express inclusive disjunction, you usually have to add some materials to exclusive disjunction.

  • Exclusive disjunction between two things

    A か B (の({うち/間}の)どちらか(一つ/一方))
    'between A or B'

  • Exclusive disjunction among more than two things

    A か B, (か) C (の({うち/間/中}の)どれか(一つ))
    'among A, B, or C'

  • Inclusive disjunction between two things

    A か B の({うち/間}の)少なくとも{一つ/一方}
    'A and/or B'

  • Inclusive disjunction among more than two things

    A か B, (か) C の({うち/間/中}の)少なくとも一つ
    'A, B, and/or C'

Since the OP seems to be having trouble with the notation, I will expand the first one so that there is no parentheses and braces:

  • Exclusive disjunction between two things

    A か B
    A か B のどちらか
    A か B のどちらか一つ
    A か B のどちらか一方
    A か B のうちのどちらか
    A か B の間のどちらか
    A か B のうちのどちらか一つ
    A か B のうちのどちらか一方
    A か B の間のどちらか一つ
    A か B の間のどちらか一方

  • I'm having a bit of trouble understanding your use of parentheses and braces. Could you explain briefly ^^;?
    – Anon
    Sep 23, 2011 at 16:47
  • 1
    @DylanLukes Parentheses mean optional. For example, A(B)C means ABC and AC are possible. A(B(C)D)E means ABCDE, ABDE, AE are possible. Braces with slash mean alternatives. For example, A{B/C}D means ABD and ACD are possible. This is a commonly accepted notation.
    – user458
    Sep 23, 2011 at 16:49
  • Also, is か always appropriate? Could these all be used both in spoken and written language? Is there a more appropriate form for formal situations?... etc.
    – Anon
    Sep 23, 2011 at 17:41
  • @DlyanLukes They are fine. If you want to be more formal, there is または, もしくは, あるいは as istrasci suggests. But I feel the latter two are only used for exclusive disjunctions.
    – user458
    Sep 23, 2011 at 17:55

There are a couple more examples for exclusive that I can think of:

  • AそしてまたB
  • AまたはB
  • AそれともB
  • A或【ある】いはB
  • How did you do the furigana? Is this a new feature? Sep 23, 2011 at 19:58
  • 1
    @KarlKnechtel Add {furigana} after the kanji, e.g. 漢字.{かんじ} (without the dot).
    – Lukman
    Sep 24, 2011 at 1:51
  • 1
    That's not how I did it. I just put that hiragana inside these thick brackets, like 【あいうえお】. Speaking of which, is there any way to turn this feature off? I hate furigana.
    – istrasci
    Sep 24, 2011 at 15:31

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .