And + Or

Conjunciones coordinantes

The English words "and" and "or" are conjunctions, and they have a few different forms in Spanish.

And = y, e

"And" is normally translated as y:

José y Ana hablan francés.   José and Ana speak French.
Me gustan las fresas y las frambuesas.   I like strawberries and raspberries.
Necesitamos sal y hielo.   We need salt and ice.

When "and" precedes a word that begins with the sound [i], the Spanish translation is e instead of y, in order to avoid having two "i" sounds in a row. This includes words that begin with i and hi, but not words that begin with hie.

Hay templos e iglesias en este calle.
  There are temples and churches on this street.
Todos mis hijos e hijas han ido a la universidad.   All of my sons and daughters have gone to college.

Or = o, ó, u

"Or" is normally translated as o:

¿Quieres café o té?   Do you want coffee or tea?
Paco o David puede ayudarte.   Paco or David can help you.

When "or" precedes a word that begins with the sound [o], the Spanish translation is u instead of o, in order to avoid having two "o" sounds in a row. This includes words that begin with o and ho.

Hay siete u ocho estudiantes en la oficina.   There are seven or eight students in the office.
¿Es vertical u horizontal?   Is it vertical or horizontal?

When o is used with numerals, it becomes ó, to avoid confusion with the number 0.

2 ó 3   2 or 3
9 ó 10   9 or 10

Note for French speakers

I’ve always found it interesting that the alternate forms e and u sound like the French conjunctions et and ou.

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