It seems that "senza A e B" is not acceptable in the Italian language, but "senza A o B" is.

Can anyone explain why?

As far as I can tell, I often hear people saying, for example:

Sono venuto senza giacca e cravatta.

Questi alimenti sono senza coloranti e conservanti.

Poverino, l'hanno operato senza bisturi ed anestesia.

Le strutture scolastiche campane sono ancore senza assistenza e servizi di trasporto per le persone diversamente abili.

Purtroppo moltissimi giovani sono senza laurea ed esperienza.

and so on.

Are all they wrong?

  • 4
    "Giacca e cravatta" is certainly an irreversible binomial (treccani.it/enciclopedia/…) so "senza giacca e cravatta" is correct because irreversible binomials are treated as one word.
    – user193
    Dec 7, 2013 at 20:42
  • I am wondering - maybe the cases you mention are all irreversible binomials (or at least meant to be such): "coloranti e conservanti", "bisturi ed anestesia", "assistenza e servizi", "laurea ed esperienza".
    – user193
    Dec 7, 2013 at 20:51
  • @random, interesting! I was not aware of this binomial 'rule' which applies here. So the question is what is binomial and what is not, though. Dec 7, 2013 at 20:52
  • 2
    I'm afraid that's widely arbitrary - I guess any of us is free to propose one: whether the proposed binomial will become of common use or not, that we can't know. Point is it can sound weird if, within a "senza A e B" structure, you treat two words as a binomial and that is not clearly perceived by the receiver of your message. As to the invariability of irreversible binomials, refer to the link above.
    – user193
    Dec 8, 2013 at 3:22
  • Yes, I think that "giacca e cravatta" is seen as a binomial and therefore is perceived as a single word, "giacca-e-cravatta": this is why "senza giacca e cravatta" is ok (but "senza giacca né cravatta" is anyway correct)
    – mau
    Dec 12, 2013 at 8:32

3 Answers 3


I (politely) disagree with the statement: "that 'senza A e B' is not acceptable in the Italian language, but 'senza A o B' is." Overlooking the fact that the expression is commonly used, as you correctly reported, reason is the following: "e" and "o" are logical connectors so you could build equivalent statements manipulating the original one by means of logical rules. So cannot be true that, given two propositions P and Q, being P e Q not acceptable, P o Q is correct. This could seen this way:

NOT (P e Q) <=> NOT(P) OR NOT(Q)

This way we should have two equivalent assertions, the first not acceptable, the second perfectly acceptable. How this could be possible?

  • The only exception I can think of is when (A AND B) is a binomial that cannot be inflected: "giacca e cravatta", "senza giacca e cravatta".
    – user193
    Dec 11, 2013 at 19:37
  • 5
    Unfortunately logic rules do not necessarily apply to languages. NOT(NOT(A)) == A but often in Italian NOT(NOT(A)) == NOT(A) (see italian.stackexchange.com/questions/1155/…)
    – nico
    Dec 12, 2013 at 8:03

I'd say that neither of them is better than "né".
I think in English you would use "nor", right? (I went without a jacket nor a tie). This is much better translated as "né": "Ci sono andato senza giacca né cravatta".
(Just note that "ne" and né" are two different words).


"Senza giacca e cravatta" is different from "senza giacca o cravatta" and it is correct in Italian language. You have just to understand if it means exactly what you want to say. It mean that you don't have both a jacket and a tie. Senza giacca o cravatta" means that you don't have even just one of them.

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