Two Ways to Say “Or” in Chinese with 或者 and 还是 | Alternative Questions
In today's video lesson we’ll learn two ways to say "or" in Chinese with 或者 and 还是. And we'll also learn about Alternative Questions
- "Or" in Chinese with 或者
- "Or" in Chinese with 还是
- Alternative Questions
Grammar 1: "Or" in Chinese with 或者 · HSK 3
So 或者 and 还是 both suggests offering options, and are usually translated as “or” in English. The difference is that, 或者 is offering options in a declarative sentence/a statement to offer options, while 还是 is usually offering options to ask a question.
We'll learn about 或者 first.
To use 或者 in a declarative sentence, we can use this structure, Option 1, Opition 2 or more, and put 或者 before the last Option (X), following this structure:
- wǒ xiǎng xué chànggē, tiàowǔ, huòzhě huàhuà
I want to learn to sing-song, dance-dance, or paint-paint.
- wǒmen kěyǐ kàn Shànghǎi duì de bǐsài, huòzhě kàn Běijīng duì de bǐsài
We can watch Team Shanghai's game, or watch Team Beijing's Team.
Grammar 2: "Or" in Chinese with 还是 · HSK 2
To ask a question that offers options for people to choose from, we can use 还是 instead of 或者. Questions like this are called Alternative Questions, 选择疑问句(Xuǎnzé Yíwèn Jù). To ask a question with 还是, there can be two structures.
(1) Option1……，Option2……，……，还是 OptionX？
(2) 是 Option1……，Option2……，……，还是 OptionX？
- nǐ (shì) xǐhuan yīntiān, qíngtāin, háishì yǔtiān
(Do) you like cloudy days, sunny days, or rainy days?
- Lǎo Zhāng (shì) wǔyuè jiéhūn, liùyuè jiéhūn, háishì qīyuè jiéhūn
(Does) Old Zhang get married (in) May, June, or July?
Be careful that sometimes 或者 can be used in a question, but it is not used there as the structure that raises the question. For example,
- chànggē, tiàowǔ, huòzhě yóuyǒng, nǐ xiǎng xué nǎge
Sing-song, dance-dance, or swim-swim, which one (do) you want to learn?
- lánqiú huòzhě zúqiú ba
Basketball or soccer maybe?
In the above sentences, it is 哪个 and 吧 that is used as the structure that raised the question, not 或者.