Slash and burn


Happy New Year! Our first blog post of 2017 is a quick one (because no matter how much I love grammar, I don’t want to spend hours writing about it on a gorgeous, sunny afternoon). Today, I just want to flag a mistake that I keep encountering: erroneous spaces used with slashes.*

Jon Bon Jovi's finest hour – as Jensen in the instant classic  New Year's Eve .

Jon Bon Jovi's finest hour – as Jensen in the instant classic New Year's Eve.

I think we all know the many common uses of the slash. “Yes/no” means “yes or no”, “model/actress” means “model and actress”, “km/h” means “kilometres per hour”, “s/he” means “she or he”, “9/10” means “9 out of 10”, “2/1/17” means “2 January, 2017” (or “1 February, 2017”, depending on which country you’re in) and so on.

The important thing to note is that in none of these cases should there be spaces on either side of the slash. I repeat: No. Spaces.

The only exception is where slashes are used to separate sentences, phrases or terms that themselves contain spaces. When indicating line breaks in a poem or song, you should use spaces like so: “Should old acquaintance be forgot / And never brought to mind / Should all acquaintance be forgot / And auld lang syne.” And you should do the same in sentences like “How was your Christmas / New Year?” because “New Year” has a space in it.

There you go, a nice and simple way to ease ourselves into January. Please keep reading and sharing the blog, and don’t forget to send us your grammar questions!  

*I’ve chosen to use the American “slash” instead of the more British “stroke” because the former seems to be more popular in New Zealand these days, probably due to the computer terms “forward slash” (/) and “backslash” (\).