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

1, 或者huòzhě (either... or ...) and 还是háishì means ‘or’ in English, They usually used by linking up two words or phrases that indicate different alternatives.  或者huòzhě is usually used in statements and 还是háishì in questions.  For example:


(1) A:你  想   喝茶,      咖啡    还是  水?
            nǐxiǎng héchá,   kāfēi háishì shuǐ ?

            you want to drink tea, coffee or water ?

        B:茶   或者  咖啡。
            huòzhě kāfēi.

            either tea or coffee.

(2) A:你   这个   周末   想   去打篮球  还是 去 踢足球?
            nǐ zhègè zhōumò xiǎng qù dǎ lánqiú háishì qù tīzúqiú.

            you want to play basketball or football this weekend ?
        B:打  篮球    或者     踢足球 都 可以。
            dǎlánqiú huòzhě tīzúqiú dōu kěyǐ.
            Either basketball or football is fine.


2,when 还是háishì is used to signify making a selection after considering two or more options, it means ‘had better in English. For example:

(1) A:你 想    学    中文        还是  法文?
         nǐxiǎng xué zhōngwén háishì fǎwén?

    Lit: You want to learn Chinese or French?
     B:还是  学  中文   吧.

         háishì xué zhōngwén ba.

         I 'd better to learn Chinese.
(2) A:你想     吃     中国     菜,  法国菜   还是   美国菜?
         nǐxiǎng chī zhōngguó cài, fǎguócài háishì měiguócài?

    Lit: You want to eat Chinese food, french food or American food?
     B:还是    吃 法国菜 吧.
         háishì chī fǎguó cài ba.

         Let's eat french food.


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Comment by The Mandarin Review on April 9, 2011 at 11:35pm

By content.


In my understanding " study" and "learn" can be the same meaning sometime, when both "study " and "learn" mean " the process to acquire some knowlege ", they both will translate as " 学 xué " in Chinese.  You may say "study " can mean" do research", then their is another Chinese word for it " 研究yánjiū" , if you want "study " to be a noun , then it translate as Chinese word "学习xué xí“ .

Comment by DK 大牛 on April 9, 2011 at 9:04am
But in English, "study" and "learn" have different meanings... is there a way to differentiate them in Chinese?
Comment by The Mandarin Review on April 9, 2011 at 6:54am

学xué means both " to study" and " to learn". There is another word "学习xuéxí" more like " study and to study ". 

When both words mean "to study" or "to learn".学习xuéxí can be used both transitively and intransitively, 学xué is normally reserved for transitive use.

For example:

1, 我学(习)中文,他学(习)英文。

    wǒxué(xí) zhōngwén, tā xué (xí) yīngwén.

    I study/learn Chinese, he studies / learn English.

2, 今天我要学习。

    jīn tiān wǒ yào xuéxí.

    Today I need to study.
3,  我的学习不好。

    wǒ de xué xí bù hǎo.

 Lit: My study is not good. / I am not doing good in school.

Comment by Brandon on March 27, 2011 at 4:47pm

I think it means both "study" and "learn" - (dianhuadictionary entry 学) although I'm not sure how to tell the difference in a sentence that uses 学 without a clear context...?


Comment by DK 大牛 on March 27, 2011 at 3:49pm
Does 学 mean "to learn"? I've always understood it as "to study"...

Comment by Brandon on March 27, 2011 at 3:47pm

Great and well explained - examples are really useful.  

Thanks for posting this!

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