Are you familiar with the slash punctuation mark? The slash (/) is a punctuation mark used in various ways to separate words, create breaks between thoughts or connect related ideas. It is among the most intriguing punctuation marks, as it can be employed for any number of writing tasks such as poetry scansion, abbreviation, and introducing variable alternatives. In this article, we will explore the punctuation mark: slash and examine its use in grammar and English Language Arts (ELA).

What is a Slash?

A slash is one of the English punctuation marks that is used to separate, connect, or add emphasis to words and phrases. The commonly used slash in English is a forward slash (/). Meanwhile, the backslash () is used for computer coding. A slash is also called slant, solidus, virgule, and whack. This symbol formerly represents a period and a comma. However, as language evolves, its functions are now different as there is a separate symbol for a period (.) and a comma (,).

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Slash Rules and Correct Usage

The first usage of slash in literary context is to separate words or lines of poetry. This process is called scansion, wherein a slash denotes the rhythm of a poem. For instance, “Shall I / compare / thee to / a sum / mers day?” is a line from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, which follows an iambic pentameter structure. The slash marks the feet of each line. An iambic pentameter is a poetic meter composed of five pairs of a two-syllable poetic foot consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.

The table below explains the five other uses of slash in English grammar:

Shows connecting and conflicting relationships between two wordsbrother/sister
Indicates alternatives; (slash read as ‘or’)his/her (his or her) if/when (if or when) and/or (‘and’ or ‘or’) apples/oranges (apples or oranges) cash/credit card (cash or credit card
Creates abbreviation of words in technical contextsc/o (care of) w/out (without) w/ (with) o/t (over time) N/A (not applicable
Expresses fractions (fraction slash) and dates (calendar date separator)1/2 (one half) 2/5 (two fifths) MM/DD/YYYY 06/08/2023 10/14/2008
Replaces the word ‘per’5 liters/bottle (5 liters per bottle) 2 cents/minute (2 cents per minute) 1 loaf/person (1 loaf per person) $15/hour ($15 per hour) 10 pieces/bundle (10 pieces per bundle)
Table of Usage for the Slash
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Examples of Sentences Using Slash

Here are the real life usage of slash in famous poems:

  • “For the moon / never beams, / without bring / ing me dreams

Of the beau / tiful Ann/ abel Lee;

And the stars / never rise, / but I feel / the bright eyes

Of the beau / tiful Ann / abel Lee.” ~ Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe

  • “Hope is / the thing / with feathers /

That per / ches in / the soul,

And sings / the tune / without / the words,

And ne / ver stops / at all …” ~ Hope Is the Thing With Feathers by Emily Dickinson

Here are ten examples of slash used in sentences:

  1. The conference is on 03/05/2023.
  2. The cat and the dog have a love/hate relationship.
  3. Mrs. Flores and Ayah’s mother/daughter bonding is unbreakable.
  4. Do you want to pay by cash/credit card?
  5. She can’t decide between apples/oranges.
  6. They will travel if/when the pandemic is over.
  7. This part of the questionnaire is N/A for you.
  8. We will meet up at 8:00/8:30.
  9. The school provides an allowance of $15/hour for tutors.
  10. Renting in this area would take 1/2 of your salary.
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Using Slash Exercises with Answers

Express the words in the left column with its counterpart using a slash.

Complete WordsSlash Counterpart
care of 
December 25, 2001 
pro-life or pro-choice 
60 miles per hour 
two thirds 
not applicable 
apartment and office 
May 19, 1999 
$30 per dozen 
Table for Slash Worksheet


Complete WordsSlash Counterpart
care ofc/o
December 25, 200112/25/2001
pro-life or pro-choicepro-life/pro-choice
60 miles per hour60 miles/hour
two thirds2/3
not applicableN/A
apartment and officeapartment/office
May 19, 199905/19/1999
$30 per dozen$30/dozen
Table of Answers for the Slash Worksheet
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List of Punctuations in English

Question Mark?
Exclamation Point!
En Dash
Em Dash
Braces{ }
Table of Punctuation Marks
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Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

English grammar, like any language, is a complex subject to study. Understanding and applying grammar rules can be challenging, especially for English language learners. However, your success in learning the language is dependent on your learning plan.

First, know that there are different levels of language proficiency. Knowing your status allows you to align it with your study materials and learning strategy. To keep your motivation, select beginner-friendly materials instead of university textbooks when starting. In doing so, you will feel less intimidated by the topics you should learn.

Second, focus on the basics: nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. Learn how to use them correctly in sentences and understand their meaning. It will help you build a strong foundation for your English language learning journey. Divide those topics into subtopics and learn each concept and rule one by one.

Third, find a reliable source of learning materials. Online resources such as websites, blogs, and YouTube videos are mostly free. LillyPad’s blog, for example, is a great resource for English language learning materials. Additionally, you can find books and other printed materials in your local library or bookstore.

Fourth, practice speaking the language with native speakers or other English learners. It will help you understand how to use the language correctly in conversations and improve your pronunciation.

Finally, be patient with yourself and don’t give up. Learning a language takes time and effort, so set realistic goals and celebrate your achievements along the way.

Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand how to use the semicolon and braces correctly.

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Common Mistakes Made by English Learners

Learning a new language can be difficult, and English is no exception. Even experienced English learners make mistakes when speaking or writing in the language. Here are some of the most common mistakes made by English learners:

Common MistakeWhy it HappensCorrectionExamples
Using the backslash (\) when referring to ‘or’Some learners use backslash and forward slash alternately in writing. This might stem from confusion between the two symbols.Use a forward slash (/) to refer to ‘or’ because the backslash is for computer programming.Incorrect:
– I’d like tacos\burger for lunch.
– Do you need a listening ear\advice?

– I’d like tacos/burger for lunch.
– Do you need a listening ear/advice?
Placing a space when using a slash to express ‘per,’ dates, one-word alternatives, factions, and relationshipsThe general writing rule is to place a space between words. Learners might carry this rule when using the slash symbol.A space is needed when using a slash to separate lines or rhythm of a poem. Moreover, place a space when there are two or more words in the alternatives.   However, space is not needed when using a slash as or with ‘per,’ dates, one-word alternatives, factions, and relationships.Incorrect date: 06 / 19 / 2018
Correct Date:  06 /19/2018

Incorrect use as ‘per’: 1 candy / child
Correct use as ‘per’: 1 candy/child

Incorrect one-word alternatives: Sir / Ma’am Correct one-word alternatives: Sir/Ma’am

Incorrect multiple-word alternatives: iced matcha/sugarless coffee
Correct multiple-word alternatives: iced matcha / sugarless coffee
Tabler of Common Errors for Slash
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Learning Slash Strategies and Best Practices

A holistic approach to learning a language makes it easier to understand and remember. The five macro skills, reading, listening, viewing, speaking, and writing, should be developed and used in the learning process for better language acquisition. The table below lists activities you can do when learning linking verbs:

ReadingUse flashcards to know basic English sight words and their meaning. Search for a material that contains translation of common expressions from your native language to English. Select study materials appropriate for your language proficiency.
ListeningListen to an audiobook or a song and write what you hear to improve your retention of English words. Compare and contrast two audio materials like TV ads and a speech. Summarize a podcast, movie, audiobook, and other English audio materials.
ViewingObserve how native speakers speak and try to mimic it. Watch English movies, interviews, and tutorials. Use pictographs to learn and remember new words.
SpeakingJoin a community of English language learners and communicate with them to improve and gain feedback. Integrate the language in your daily life and try to speak using English. Participate in speech organizations (e.g. debate club, theater groups)
WritingWrite a journal of your learning journey in English. Answer practice tests and create your own sentences. Create a reflection essay on the media you watch or listen to.
Table of Learning Strategies for the Slash
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Slash Frequently Asked Questions

The slash (/) is a punctuation mark used to indicate a line break in poetry or to separate alternative words. Moreover, it shows fractions and ratios and denotes relationships between two entities. Additionally, it is often employed in computer programming languages to separate lines of code.

A slash expresses abbreviations in writing. For example, you can use a slash to indicate an abbreviation for a word like “tight end” as “t/e.” Additionally, slashes can be used to denote alternative words or phrases in writing. For example, you could write “I love both cats/dogs.” Moreover, you can use a slash to express fractions and dates.

Yes, a slash is placed in between the words ‘and’ and ‘or’ as in and/or. It means that one or both of the provided is acceptable or true. For example, you can write, “I’m looking for a job in either finance/marketing.” It means that the person is looking for a job in either finance or marketing or both.

The symbol ‘/’ is called a slash. Other terms for slash are oblique, stroke, and virgule.

Yes, you may use a slash in formal writing. However, ensure that the slashes are used correctly and in an appropriate context. Additionally, it is advisable to avoid overusing them as this can detract from the clarity of your writing.

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Learn from History – Follow the Science – Listen to the Experts

For learners of all ages striving to improve their English, LillyPad combines the most scientifically studied and recommended path to achieving English fluency and proficiency with today’s most brilliant technologies!

What’s the one thing that makes LillyPad so special? Lilly! Lilly’s a personal English tutor, and has people talking all over the world! Lilly makes improving your English easy. With Lilly, you can read in four different ways, and you can read just about anything you love. And learning with Lilly, well that’s what you call liberating!

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At LillyPad, everything we do is focused on delivering a personalized journey that is meaningful and life-changing for our members. LillyPad isn’t just the next chapter in English learning…

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