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My GM and I have a minor argument about the wording of the paragraph regarding the Spells Known for Eldritch Knights:

Spells Known of 1st-Level and Higher. You know three 1st-level wizard spells of your choice, two of which you must choose from the abjuration and evocation spells on the wizard spell list.

It says "abjuration and evocation". This suggests to me, that the two school-restricted spells could be both abjuration spells, both evocation spells or one spell from each school.

My GM believes that one spells has to be abjuration, the other one evocation. According to his interpretation I cannot choose both spells from the same list. If that were the case, the wording would have to be "abjuration and/or evocation".

Neither of us is a native English speaker, so we're not sure how to interpret this.

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As purely a matter of reading this as a native speaker, the restrictions is that both spells must be chosen from a set which includes all of the abjuration and evocation spells from the wizard spell list.

There is no restriction saying that one must be from each school. If that were the intention, it would probably say something like:

You know three 1st-level wizard spells of your choice, one of which you must choose from the abjuration spells on the wizard spell list and one of which you must choose from the evocation spells on the wizard spell list.

Or, more likely, a different wording entirely. D&D 5E is meant to be written in natural language, not technical code with keywords and mathematical logic. So they might have written something like:

Choose three spells from the wizard spell list. One of these must be from the abjuration spells, one must be from the evocation spells, and the third can be of any school.

But they didn't.

From a language point of view, the "and" in the actual wording serves to create a combined set of both lists. This is a very natural way to say this in English — like "Choose a pet from all of the cats and dogs we have available." That's why it doesn't need to say "and/or" to have the meaning it does. In fact, "Choose a pet from all of the cats or dogs" sounds like you don't know what kind of animals you actually have.

So, because it says you choose from the combined set, you're free to select one of each or two from either.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The phrase "Choose a pet out of all these cats and dogs we have available" would also be gramatically correct, and nobody would think there is an animal in that set that is both a cat and a dog at the same time. It implies that there is a set of animals that includes both cats and dogs you get to pick from. Now replace pet = spell, cats = abjuration, dogs = evocation and you got your solution. +1 \$\endgroup\$ – Mindwin Feb 2 '18 at 16:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ But your "cats and/or" dogs example drops the fact that you are being asked to choose TWO. The context also changes, removing most of what makes this statement ambiguous. \$\endgroup\$ – Andrew Bergdahl Feb 2 '18 at 20:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AndrewBergdahl If someone said: "Pick two pets from our list of cats and dogs", would you really think "Oh, I probably need to pick one of each type of animal"? I'm skeptical. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Feb 2 '18 at 21:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mattdm absolutely be skeptical. I am too. I am on the fence about this one - there's no definitive solution to this question that can't be challenged. But I still maintain that when you write "pick two pets from our list of cats and dogs", you've altered the syntax and the context enough that it doesn't apply. \$\endgroup\$ – Andrew Bergdahl Feb 2 '18 at 21:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Here's a much more direct adaptation: "You have three pets of your choice, two of which you must choose from the cats and dogs on our special adoption list." … still really seems like there's only one sensible reading to me. \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Feb 3 '18 at 3:00

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