June 1st, 2008
Mutually exclusive is a term that pops up all the time in books I read. This is a mathematical term with a very precise meaning, but in general English it is used to mean that two things can’t happen at the same time.
For example, being in a relationship and being single are mutually exclusive. In other words, you can’t be in a relationship and be single at the same time. (unless you are a good liar. haha).
Often this term is used by saying that two things are “not mutually exclusive”. This means that the two events can, at least in theory, happen together.
Doing well in school and having a fun social life are not mutually exclusive if you know how to manage your time well.
Knowing how to use this term well will impress native speakers. I even know some native speakers who don’t know what it means.
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