Two Common Ways to Express OR in Japanese
As in ‘and’, ‘or in Japanese’ is not a word, but more like a concept of conditionals. In this post, you will learn the two most common ways to express or in Japanese – か (ka) and それとも (soretomo).
「 か」– Ka
The most common way to offer choices is by using か (ka). All you need to do is add the か (ka) between nouns. Note that か (ka) is only used to connect nouns.
Structure: Noun 1 か Noun 2 (か Noun 3 )
Basu ka Densha de Kyoto ni ikimasu.
[I will] go to Kyoto by bus or train.
Shitsumon ga areba, Denwa ka Mēru de renraku shite kudasai.
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In everyday conversation, you will find more questions as the following:
Ringo ka Suika, docchi ga tabetai?
An apple or a watermelon, which do you want to eat?
Ryokucha ka Ūroncha ka Kōcha, dore ga ī?
Green tea, Oolong tea or (Black) tea, which one is good for you?
Note: か is sometimes placed after the last noun, though there is no difference.
Ringo ka Suika ka, docchi ga tabetai?
「 それとも」– Soretomo
それとも (soretomo) is another common way to express or in spoken language. それとも (soretomo) is used to connect two alternatives – not to mark two alternatives. While か (ka) is only for connecting nouns, それとも (soretomo) can be used for connecting verbs and adjectives too.
Structure: Question with Alternative, Soretomo Alternative 2.
Ano kaban wa takai desu ka, soretomo yasui desu ka.
Is that bag expensive? Or is it cheap?
Kōhī ga ī desu ka, soretomo ocha ga ii desu ka.
Would you like to have a cup of coffee? Or, to have a cup of tea?
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