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choose between

6 replies   
What is correct:
"to choose between A and B" , or
"to choose between A or B" ?
Thanks for your help
AuthorKlaus H.16 Aug 02, 13:45
A and B
Das ist wie im Deutschen, man wählt ja nicht zwischen A oder B.
#1AuthorIngrid16 Aug 02, 13:49
Choose A or B.

No 'between'
#2Author16 Aug 02, 13:52
"to choose between A and B" is not the same as "to choose A or B", though both are correct expressions ("to choose between A or B" is wrong)
I could probably explain, but just trust me.
#3Authorbarty16 Aug 02, 14:13
barty, I am going to make an attempt at an explanation.

When you "choose between A and B", A and B express a dichotomy, i.e. two opposing things or principles. "You have to choose between excellence and mediocrity". "We have to choose between God and Mammon" (from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6).

The "between" implies that there are ONLY TWO CHOICES - you can sit between 2 chairs, but not between 3.

When you "choose A or B", A and B are not necessarily in contrast to each other. And there may also be other options in addition to A and B.
A website prompts you to "Choose a country or region". Another website gives you advice on "How To Choose A Body Lotion or Moisturizer".

#4Authorhans wolff <us>17 Aug 02, 06:54
I find what Hans says persuasive, it seems logical. A further logical explanation might extend Hans's reasoning and say that the "between A and B" uses AND because "A and B" are a series (admittedly, a short one) and an series in English takes AND before the last item. This way, the "between" explanation of Hans is just a special case of the more general series where N=2. The more general case would have more choices: "please choose among A, B, C AND D" (not ...OR D"). Same reason again, the series from which you're choosing is what? Just D? Just A? Just {B, C}? No, the series is four elements, and to get a four element series in English you must AND them together precisely this way: "A, B, C and D"
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#5Authorpeter <us>18 Aug 02, 06:33
(variant: "A, B, C, and D" includes a comma after the penultimate element but I reject this in favor of the other). It is the 4-element series from which you must choose, thus AND. In "between A and B" the AND is required to get a two-element series in the first place, from which you can then choose one in the second place.

But in the end, a simpler response might be that sometimes (frequently, even) there simply is no logical explanation, that's just the way ...English (or whatever language) is.

You could just as easily say that "between takes AND" and have that be the end of it.
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#6AuthorPeter18 Aug 02, 06:34
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