Common mistakes and tips in speaking Chinese #1 - How to say “Or”

Today I decided to start writing a blog here on SMC. Actually I'm thinking of doing this for a long time. I've talked to a lot of foreigners before. Some of them are really good at speaking Chinese already, but still make some very common mistakes. Native Chinese speakers probably wouldn’t  ask or correct you as long as they understand, but I think you might want to know how to say it in a more Chinese way instead of just being understood.


What I'm going to write might not strictly follow grammar rules, but it is how Chinese speakers say it all the time.


Today let's see how to say "or" in Chinese.


还是 (hái shì) is the most common translation for "or" in your book. But did you know that 还是 is only the translation when you use it in question? If it's a statement, we don't say 还是, we say 或 huò (者 zhě)/或(者)是。 或 is short for 或者。


Do you like Beijing or Shanghai better?


Nǐ bǐjiào xǐhuan běijīng háishì shànghǎi?


He might be leaving today or tomorrow.


Tā kěnéng jīntiān huò shì míngtiān líkāi.


Tā kěnéng jīntiān huòzhě míngtiān líkāi.


Tā kěnéng jīntiān háishì míngtiān líkāi.


Any questions and discussions are welcome!

You may also be interested in:

The difference between 或者 huòzhě and 还是 háishì - either / or


This post was originally published on Study More Chinese Blogs, written by Seraph Ching.

(photo credit Akuppa

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Comment by Carey Giudici on July 6, 2012 at 5:15pm
Thanks Seraph and Im a professional editor/copywriter so let me know any time I can help you with some writing tasks.

Comment by Seraph Ching on July 6, 2012 at 9:53am

Hi Carey, I'm glad that you can use some help here. Feel free asking questions any time. :)

Comment by Carey Giudici on July 6, 2012 at 9:10am

Thanks Seraph, I'm a complete beginner and little words like "or" are very helpful as I think of ways to practice new vocabulary etc. I'll go out and use 或 today

Comment by Seraph Ching on July 3, 2012 at 10:36am

Good question. I think the phrase “既不…也不…” might be the closest thing to "neither...nor...".


Comment by jono1001 on July 3, 2012 at 6:47am

This is a very good explanation.  

Comment by sikora on July 2, 2012 at 11:03pm

Hey Seraph,

In English we have the negative word, "nor."  For example:

I  like neither pickles nor mayonnaise.

Is there an equivalent in Mandarin?

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