Posted in AP Exam, Grammar, Infographics

Chinese Or Grammar, Haishi and Huozhe

还是 haishi and 或者 huozhe


“Or” in English and Chinese

Did you realize that “or” can be used both in questions and statements in English? But In Chinese, there are two different words for “or” – 还是 haishi and 或者 huozhe.

English examples,

Mom: Do you want water or milk? (Question)

Kid: Either water or milk is fine. Thank you. (Statement)


In Chinese, there are two different words for “or” –

one is for a question, 还是 háishì  and

one is for a statement 或 huò / 或者 huò zhě / 或是 huò shì.

This grammar is easy to learn, but it takes practice for it to become second nature to know which one to use.


Let’s see some examples.

还是 hái shì

Example 1

sugar      还是      no sugar   question mark

你的茶 要 加糖 还是 不加糖 ? Nǐ de chá yào jiātáng háishì bù jiātáng?

(Does your tea need sugar or not ?)

加糖 jiātáng adding sugar is option 1. 不加糖 bù jiātáng no adding sugar is option 2.



Example 2

lego pirate 1      还是       lego pirate 2   question mark

你 爱 还是 他 ? Nǐ ài wǒ háishì tā?

(Do you love me or him?)


Example 3

black high heel   还是      white high heel   question mark

她 喜欢 黑色的 鞋 还是 白色的 鞋 ? Tā xǐhuān hēisè de xié háishì báisè de xié?

(Does she like black shoes or white shoes?)


Example 4

hot pot   还是     dumplings   question mark

你们 晚饭 想吃 火锅 还是 饺子 ? Nǐmen wǎnfàn xiǎng chī huǒguō háishì jiǎozi?

(Do you guys want to have hot pot or dumplings for dinner?)


或者 huò zhě

Example 1

ice tea   或者    hot tea check mark

冰茶 或者 热茶 都可以,我都喜欢。谢谢! Bīng chá huòzhě rè chá dōu kěyǐ, wǒ dū xǐhuān. Xièxiè!

(Either iced tea or hot tea is fi ne. I like both. Thank you!)


Example 2

Toronto     或者    New York  

这个周末 我们 可以 去 纽约 或者 多伦多 玩。 Zhège zhōumò wǒmen kěyǐ qù niǔyuē huòzhě duōlúnduō wán.

(We can go to either New York or Toronto this weekend.)



Example 3

hot pot     或者     dumplings  

我们 晚饭 吃火锅 或者 饺子 都可以。 Wǒmen wǎnfàn chī huǒguō huòzhě jiǎozi dōu kěyǐ.

(Hot pot or dumplings both are fine for dinner.)

In this infographic, we talk about the difference between 还是 and 或者. For practice, we created case scenarios. After learning this grammar, students should be able to recognize which is the correct one in the different scenarios.


还是 haishi and 或者 huozhe Practice Scenarios

1. Your mom is too tired to cook dinner today. She gave you guys two options. First, go out to eat. The second one, order out. What would she say? And if you don’t have any preference, what would you say?

2. Your boss wants to send one person to a professional development conference. He has chosen you and Jack. He doesn’t care who is going between you two. What would he say?

3. You want to hang out with your friends on the weekend. You want to know which day works better for her. What would you say?


You can find the answers in the infographics below!


还是 haishi and 或者 huozhe Simplified Chinese Version Infographic

还是 haishi and 或者 huozhe Simplified Chinese Version Infographic


还是 haishi and 或者 huozhe Video

Video Credit to Carol from

Voice over: Carol

还是 haishi and 或者 huozhe Traditional Chinese Version Infographic

还是 haishi and 或者 huozhe Traditional Chinese Version Infographic


Can-do checklist

Use the “can-do” list to check if you learned this grammar.

⃞    I can say “还是” and “或者” in Chinese.

⃞    I can tell when to use “还是”, and when to use “或者”.

⃞    I can tell if people are asking a question or saying a statement from the use of 还是 or 或者.

⃞    I can place both of them correctly in Chinese sentences.

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