When to Use a Slash: Backslash (\) vs Forward Slash (/)

The differences between a backslash (\) vs a forward slash (/). Learn how when to use a slash (a virgule) in English with examples, punctuation rules and ESL image.

Backslash vs Forward Slash

What is a slash? what is the symbol (\) called? What is the symbol (/) called?

The symbol (\) is called a backslash, while (/) is called a forward slash, which is also known as a virgule, a stroke or even an oblique dash. Thus there are two types of slashes in the English language: a backslash (\) and a forward slash (/).

The backslash (\) is a typographical mark used merely for computer coding and file names. It is not a form of punctuation mark in English. We often use the backslash to separate computer folder names, especially in Windows systems.

The backslash (\) Examples:

  • C:\Program Files

The forward slash (/), often simply referred to as a slash (which is also known as a stroke, a virgule, or even an oblique dash), is a punctuation mark used in English. The slash can be used to separate lines in a song or poem when they are written in a continuous line. This punctuation mark is also used in place of the word or. It can also be used to show two contradictory notions.

When to Use a Slash (/)

1. We use slashes to separate parts of a website address (URL) on the Internet.


  • https://7esl.com/
  • https://www.google.com/

2. We use the slash to form abbreviations.


  • w/o (without)
  • w/ (with)
  • b/4 (before)
  • b/c (because)
  • j/k (just kidding)
  • s/t (something)
  • n/a (not applicable, not available)

3. We use slashes in dates to separate day, month and year.


  • He was born on 26/07/1995. (British English)
  • She arrived in Tokyo on 03/20/2001. (American English)

4. We use slashes to indicate fractions.


  • ½ (a half/ one half)
  • ¾ (three quarters)
  • 1½ (one and a half)

5. We use the slash to indicate the word “OR”


  • When his/her client comes, call him on this number.
  • The director is allowed to designate his/ her successor.
  • He/ she can help you as an objective legal adviser.

6. We use the slash to express the word “PER”.


  • He clocked up 180 km/h on the straight in that car.
  • An average electric bill might go up $4/month.
  • The price of oil had fallen to $18/barrel.

7. We use the slash to separate lines from a poem or song.


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

8. We use the slash to show contradictory notions.


  • The optimism/pessimism ideologies are very popular today. 

How to Use Slashes Correctly | Picture

When to Use a Slash: Backslash (\) vs Forward Slash (/)

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