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Hello, everyone! Yinru here. Welcome to our Chinese whiteboard lessons. Today, we're going to compare two similar words. They are used between words and phrases to indicate alternatives. In English, it's usually translated as “or”.
So we have 还是 (haíshì) and 或者 (huòzhĕ). They can both mean “or”. So how do we know when to use 或者 (huòzhĕ) and when to use 还是 (haíshì)? How do we tell them apart? Here's a very simple rule, it all depends if you have a question or a statement. In a question, we use 还是 (haíshì). 还是 (haíshì) is used in questions. In a statement, we use 或者 (huòzhĕ).
So here are some examples. The first one…
你是喝咖啡还是喝茶? (Nǐ shì hē kāfēi háishì hē chá?) “Would you like to drink coffee or tea?” Here, question mark. 问号 (wènhào) means it's a question. 是一个问句 (shì yīgè wèn jù). In a question, you use 还是 (haíshì).
And here - 咖啡或者茶都可以。 (Kāfēi huòzhě chá dōu kěyǐ.) “Coffee or tea can both work.” Here, statement 句号 (jùhào) period. Statement so we use 或者 (huòzhĕ).
Here, another example - 今天是星期三还是星期四,问号 (Jīntiān shì xīngqísān háishì xīngqísì, wènhào). It’s a question so we use 还是 (haíshì). “Is today Wednesday or Thursday?”
你星期三或者星期四来都行,句号。 (Nǐ xīngqísān huòzhě xīngqísì lái dōu xíng, jùhào.) period, it’s a statement so that means, “You can come either on Wednesday or Thursday.”
Okay, let's look at this one. You see a question mark so it's a question. You know, automatically, you’re most likely going to be using 还是 (haíshì).
这把伞是你的还是我的? (Zhè bǎ sǎn shì nǐ de háishì wǒ de?) 这把伞 (zhè bǎ sǎn) means “this umbrella”. 伞 (sǎn) means “umbrella” and the measure word or the counter when you speak before 伞 (sǎn) is 把 (bǎ).
这把伞是你的还是我的? (Zhè bǎ sǎn shì nǐ de háishì wǒ de?) “Is this umbrella yours or mine?”
Here, we see a period. It's a statement so we use 或者 (huòzhĕ).
This sentence means - 手机或者电脑上都能看。 (Shǒujī huòzhě diànnǎo shàng dōu néng kàn.) “You can watch it either on the phone or computer.”
So here, big difference, question or statement, 还是 (haíshì) in questions and 或者 (huòzhĕ) in statements.
Okay, the next difference is in everyday language or in colloquial language or speech. You can usually omit 或者 (huòzhĕ).
For example - 咖啡或者茶都行。 (Kāfēi huòzhě chá dōu xíng.), 咖啡、茶都行。 (Kāfēi, chá dōu xíng.), 都可以 (dōu kěyǐ). Well, when you're writing it down, you use this mark. It's called 顿号 (dùn hào) in Chinese. 顿号 (dùn hào), it's just like the comma in English but you use it between a list of nouns or words.
咖啡、茶都可以。 (Kāfēi, chá dōu kěyǐ.)
你星期三,顿号,星期四来都行。 (Nǐ xīngqísān, dùn hào, xīngqísì lái dōu xíng.) “You can either come on Wednesday or Thursday.”
When you're saying it, you can just put a pause between two words like 你星期三,星期四来,都行。 (Nǐ xīngqísān, xīngqísì lái, dōu xíng.).
So this is “or” 或者 (huòzhĕ), but you don't have to say it in colloquial language, okay.
Okay, the next difference is sometimes you will see 还是 (haíshì) in a statement. That's because it's used inside a clause and this clause is like a question like this one - 我不记得是前年还是去年知道的这件事。 (Wǒ bù jìdé shì qiánnián háishì qùnián zhīdào de zhè jiàn shì.) “I don't remember if it was last year or the year before last year.” 前年 (qiánnián) means “the year before last year” and 去年 (qùnián) is “last year”. So “I don't remember if I knew this or I found out about this in the year before last year or last year.” Here, 还是 (haíshì), it’s like a question. I don’t remember if this year or that year, but it’s inside a clause and it's in a statement. Here, we use 还是 (haíshì) even though it's a statement.
Another example - 我想弄清楚这是一个事实还是假象。 (Wǒ xiǎng nòng qīngchǔ zhè shì yīgè shìshí háishì jiǎxiàng.)
事实 (shìshí) is a fact, 假象 (jiǎxiàng), it’s like illusion or something that’s not true.
我想弄清楚 (wǒ xiǎng nòng qīngchǔ), 弄清楚 (nòng qīngchǔ) means “to find out” or “to figure out”. “I'd like to find out if this is the truth or an illusion.” Here, 还是 (háishì) is either / or but it's in a question like clause. It's in a statement. We still use 还是 (haíshì).
So to recap, if you see a question, most likely you will use 还是 (haíshì) and if you see a statement, we often use 或者 (huòzhĕ). But sometimes, you don't need to use 或者 (huòzhĕ) when you're speaking casually. You can just pause or use 顿号 (dùn hào) in writing. When you see a long sentence and there's a clause and it's like a question, you use 还是 (haíshì) even though it's a statement.
Okay now, it's quiz time! Let's look at the following sentence in question to see whether we're going to use 还是 (haíshì) or 或者 (huòzhĕ).
So the first one…
中秋节是二十号____二十一号 (Zhōngqiū jié shì èrshí hào____èrshíyī hào), then question mark. 中秋节 (Zhōngqiū jié) is “Mid-Autumn Day”. It’s a very big and traditional Chinese festival. This festival, 中秋节 (Zhōngqiū jié) usually happens in September in the middle of an autumn, at the autumn. So 中秋节 (Zhōngqiū jié) is on the 20 or the 21st. It's a simple question and you see a question mark there. So we use 还是 (haíshì) in a question.
Okay the second one…
蓝色,空格,紫色都很适合你。 (Lán sè, kònggé, zǐsè dōu hěn shìhé nǐ.) It’s a sentence, it's a statement, it's very simple so we know most likely we're going to use 或者 (huòzhĕ), but let's find out what that means, this sentence means.
蓝色 (lán sè) “blue”, 紫色 (zǐsè) “purple”, 都很适合你 (dōu hěn shìhé nǐ) “they both fit you / they both suit you well”.
So 蓝色或者紫色都很适合你。 (Lán sè huòzhĕ zǐsè dōu hěn shìhé nǐ.)
Okay, let's move on to the third one..
你觉得华为的手机好用,空格,苹果的手机好用? (Nǐ juédé Huáwéi de shǒujī hǎo yòng, kònggé, Píngguǒ de shǒujī hǎo yòng?)
First, 你觉得 (nǐ juédé) “you think” and 华为的手机 (Huáwéi de shǒujī)), Huawei is a Chinese brand, a very popular Chinese brand for cellphone. So 华为的手机 (Huáwéi de shǒujī) is “Huawei cellphone” and here, 苹果的手机 (Píngguǒ de shǒujī), 苹果 (Píngguǒ) Apple so 苹果的手机 (Píngguǒ de shǒujī) is “Apple cellphone”. 好用 (hǎo yòng) here is an adjective meaning “good to use or easy to use”. So it means, “Do you think a Huawei phone is better to use or do you like Apple phone better?”. So it’s a simple question and we use 还是 (haíshì).
Okay, the fourth one…
我们周末可以去公园,空格,可以去水族馆。 (Wǒmen zhōumò kěyǐ qù gōngyuán, kònggé, kěyǐ qù shuǐzú guǎn.)
You wouldn’t notice that they are not exactly words. These are two phrases or two sentences. To put them together, to link them together, we can also use 或者 (huòzhĕ) and 还是 (haíshì), but here because it’s 句号 (jùhào), it’s a statement so we use 或者 (huòzhĕ).
So this weekend 周末 (zhōumò) “weekend”, either go to the park or we can go to the aquarium 水族馆 (shuǐzú guǎn).
We can also omit that. We don't have to say anything, just leave it blank - 我们周末可以去公园、可以去水族馆。 (Wǒmen zhōumò kěyǐ qù gōngyuán, kěyǐ qù shuǐzú guǎn.).
Like this one, we can say - 蓝色或者紫色都很适合你。 (Lán sè huòzhĕ zǐsè dōu hěn shìhé nǐ.) or we don't have to say anything - 蓝色、紫色都很适合你。 (Lán sè, zǐsè dōu hěn shìhé nǐ.)
Okay, the last one…
我告诉过你他是英国人,空格,澳大利亚人,只是你又忘了。(Wǒ gàosùguò nǐ tā shì Yīngguó rén, kònggé, Àodàlìyà rén, zhǐshì nǐ yòu wàngle.)
Here, it’s a complicated long sentence, long statement, but there is a choice between inside the sentence. So here, question like clause, we use 还是 (haíshì). To translate this this complicated sentence - “I have told you,” 我告诉过你 (wǒ gàosùguò nǐ), 他是英国人 (tā shì Yīngguó rén) “he’s British or” 澳大利亚人 (Àodàlìyà rén) “Australian”. 只是你又忘了 (zhǐshì nǐ yòu wàngle) “It’s just you forgot again.”
“I have told you if he’s British or Australian, it’s just you forget it again.” You forgot it again.
So today, we have learned the difference between 还是 (haíshì) and 或者 huòzhĕ. If you like this lesson, please give us a big thumbs up and subscribe to our channel. I’ll see you in the next lesson. 再见。 (Zàijiàn). Bye-bye.

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ChineseClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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ChineseClass101.com Verified
Friday at 08:47 AM
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你好 robert groulx!


不用谢。(Bú yòng xiè.) = No need for thanks. You're welcome. 😇

谢谢 (Xièxie) for studying with us, it's great to have you here!

Let us know if you have any questions.


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robert groulx
Thursday at 10:36 PM
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thank for the lesson


my favorite words are Wǒmen zhōumò kěyǐ qù gōngyuán, kěyǐ qù shuǐzú guǎn.


robert

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Tuesday at 12:20 AM
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你好 Barbora,


谢谢你的留言!❤️️


你可以说:我觉得您是很好的老师。


如果你有什么问题,请随时联系我们。


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Barbora
Saturday at 03:57 AM
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您好!

我觉得您很好老师。我一看就懂。

谢谢您!❤️️

ChineseClass101.com Verified
Wednesday at 03:18 AM
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你好 Mailaya,


You're welcome. 😉 谢谢 studying with us. If you have any questions, please let us know.


Kind regards,

雷文特 (Levente)

Team ChineseClass101.com

Mailaya
Tuesday at 10:00 AM
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i did nto know that thanks for the info!😄

ChineseClass101.com
Tuesday at 07:31 PM
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Hello Tais,


不客气!You can say 你教我们很好!我会懂你非常非常好。谢谢为这个课!=> 你教得很好!我完全明白了。谢谢你给我们上了这节课!


As always, let us know if you have any questions.


Ngai Lam

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Tais
Monday at 07:30 AM
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老师,你教我们很好!我会懂你非常非常好。谢谢为这个课!

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Monday at 09:23 PM
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Hi Everett


Thanks for your post.

Let us know when you have any questions.


Amy

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Everett
Saturday at 12:17 PM
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👍很好的课。 谢谢!