I'm looking at coordination strategies in the languages of the world and I wonder if all languages have a distinction between conjunction and disjunction.

2 Answers 2


In Manchu, and I'm sure in many other languages, they are expressed the same, with a zero, even in English you can do it that way. Without using the actual Manchu words, it looks like that:

AND: I have milk, cheese.

OR: Would you like milk, cheese?

  • Great point. If this is not conjunction or disjunction, what is it?
    – Teusz
    May 24, 2015 at 20:50
  • @Teusz - I'm not that good in formal logic to tell you the exact term, but the 1st sentence is definitely conjunction, and the 2nd sentence is disjunction OR conjunction, that is I can answer either "milk" or "cheese" OR I can say "yes" meaning "I take both". :)
    – Yellow Sky
    May 24, 2015 at 21:57
  • i think this is also often the case in chinese languages, like in mandarin 你媽媽爸爸愛你 nǐ māmā bābā ài nǐ, "your mom (and) dad love you", and 我想牛奶,不想糖 "I would like milk, (but/and) would not like sugar," where in both examples a zero-conjunction is used. but this isn't always the case, and there are ways that they're distinguished.
    – Kaninchen
    May 31, 2015 at 4:07

Why do you think any language distinguishes. Syntacticians generally use the term "conjunction" to refer to a class of constructions including both "and" and "or", because both of these work the same way, grammatically. They both connect constituents of the same type and create a new constituent of that same type. For instance, "Benny likes halibut or despises smelt" has a verb phrase, "likes halibut or despises smelt" which has two constituents of that same type conjoined by "or", the verb phrase "likes halibut" and the verb phrase "despises smelt". If we exchange "or" for "and", we get a construction of exactly the same type.

  • True. So in that case, "and" and "or" in English are both kinds of conjunction. Correct?
    – Teusz
    May 25, 2015 at 7:45
  • @Teusz, correct. (Discounting the confusion caused by using "conjunction" in a different sense from that used in logic.)
    – Greg Lee
    May 25, 2015 at 13:28

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