How to Use Slashes

Slashes are often seen as difficult, but the rules of how to use them are fairly simple. This is a grammar guide to using a slash.

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There are two different types of slashes. Only the forward slash—/—is used in writing, and it does have a few different uses.

One of the common uses is to break up lines of poetry, songs or plays if you don’t add an actual new line.

He said hello / She said hello / They both said hello.

This could also be written like this:

He said hello/ She said hello/ They both said hello.

The slashes in each case indicate that it could also be written like this:

He said hello
She said hello
They both said hello.

The above example is the only instance where you would put spaces around a slash—either before and after or just after.

Another use is instead of the word or.

His/her, either/or, and/or.

There are not spaces either side of the slash, this is a mistake that I see quite a lot. It shouldn’t be either / or, it should be either/or.

From time to time, slashes can be used as an abbreviation, for example 24/7 or w/e (for ‘week ending’).

The final use is to show some kind of opposition between two things such as the pro-life/pro-choice debate or stay/go. Finally, slashes can also be used when things have a non-opposed connection like a home-office/bedroom or a sofa/bed.

Slashes are not uncommon in all forms of writing and despite the simple rules they are often used incorrectly. The only time there should be any spaces anywhere near a slash is when using them as a line break indicator.

Davina Chime is a Thanet-born hopeless romantic.

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