The Slash

Punctuation Marks

Part 13

The Slash

(/)

What is a slash? When should a slash be used? How should a slash be used in a sentence? These are a few of the questions this workshop will answer. (Please see the punctuation chart in our introduction to punctuation workshop).

Definition:

The slash is a forward sloping line (/) that serves as a mark of punctuation. Once used to mark periods and commas, the slash is now most often used to represent exclusive or inclusive; division and fractions; and as a date separator. Also called a virgule, oblique, an oblique stroke, a diagonal, a solidus, a forward slash, and a separatrix.

Common uses:

Use 1- Signify alternatives (and/or)

The use of slashes tend toward informal pieces of writing. They’re sort of like an illustration of the word “or.”

For example:

• At last week’s speed dating event, there were instructions for every man/woman to stick to a three-drink maximum.

• The professor instructed all students to bring a notebook and/or laptop to class to take notes.

• If/when the professor shows up, I’m sure it’ll be a great class.

Use 2- Dates

You can write out December 25, 2025, or you can write shorten it to 12/25/2025, or even 12/25/25.

Even though it’s true that slashes are used informally, many formal writings will accept a forward slash when dealing with dates.

Just be careful because some methods of citation might prefer a hyphen (-). So, for example, you may be required to write 12-25-2025. It’s always worth the extra ounce of effort to check and double-check the preferred method of citation.

Use 3- Separate lines in a poem

Mary had a little lamb/ little lamb, little lamb/ Mary had a little lamb/ whose fleece was white as snow.

The quality of mercy is not strained/ it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven/ upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:/ It blesseth him that gives and him that takes

Use 4- Abbreviation

For example:

• Look out for the package we sent you c/o (care of) Jane Smith.

• Remember to take your notebook w/you (with you) when you leave today.

• The house was unbearably hot as the a/c (air conditioning) was broken.

Did you notice that each of these examples has an air of informality? You’d never write “w/you” in an academic paper. However, in less formal settings, forward slashes help us shorten our writing.

Use 5- Replace the word per

For Example:

Mary’s job pays her a salary of $800/week.
A police car tops out at a speed of 250 km/h.

Use 6- Conflicting Ideas/Relationships

In its truest form, a slash is either going to indicate a connection between two things or a conflicting idea/relationship.

Example:

Let’s say we were planning a trip to the moon and we wanted to make a connection between our charted courses. Our resident astronaut might say, “In order to make a successful landing on the moon, we’re going to take the Mars/Venus route into space.”

In this example, the slash is acting as a connector between two distinct locales that are both a part of our charted course.

Special note:

Only use a space after the / (before a word) when using in music/poems.  All other instances there is no space before or after the /.

This concludes the slash workshop. Please re-read the information contained in this workshop before completing the slash worksheet.

After you have re-read the information in this workshop, test your knowledge on the slash punctuation mark. Please complete The Slash Worksheet. You’ll find it on our website. At the top of the page, just click on the menu section and then select Worksheets.

If you have any questions, please feel free to post them in the Leave a Reply/Leave a Comment section below. A teaching staff member will provide helpful feedback to any question related to this workshop.

We hope you enjoyed this workshop!

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