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6.5: Lesson 5 Grammar - Offering choices with 还是 (háishì)

  • Page ID
    65656
  • 还是 (háishì) is used in Chinese to provide options in a question. This is equivalent to one of our uses of "or" in English.

    Structure 

         Option A + 还是 + Option B ?

    When you're asked a question of this form, there are two ways you're expected to answer: either Option A or Option B. (Pick one, but not both.) It's not that no other answers are possible, it's that usually when you're asked a question this way, the person asking expects you to just choose one. For example, if asked if you'd like to drink coffee or tea, most people are going to choose one or the other, not ask for both. 还是 (háishì) is used to ask people to make that choice between the two.

    Examples 

    • 我还是他?
      Wǒ háishì tā?
      Me or him?
       
    • 一个还是两个?
      Yī gè háishì liǎng gè?
      One or two?
       
    • 辣的还是不辣的?
      Là de háishì bù là de?
      Spicy or non-spicy?
       
    • 冰的还是热的?
      Bīng de háishì rè de?
      Cold or hot?
       
    • 上海还是北京?
      Shànghǎi háishì Běijīng?
      Shanghai or Beijing?

    Full Sentence Form 

    Structure 

    You can take the structure above, add a subject and a verb, and create all kinds of questions with the following structure:

         Subj. + Verb + Option A + 还是 + Option B ?

    Examples 

    • 这是水还是酒?
      Zhè shì shuǐ háishì jiǔ?
      Is this water or alcohol?
       
    • 他是美国人还是英国人?
      Tā shì Měiguó rén háishì Yīngguó rén?
      Is he American or British?
       
    • 你喜欢我还是我的钱?
      Nǐ xǐhuan wǒ háishì wǒ de qián?
      Do you like me or my money?
       
    • 你要喝茶还是咖啡?
      Nǐ yào hē chá háishì kāfēi?
      Do you want to drink tea or coffee?
       
    • 你们想吃中国菜还是法国菜?
      Nǐmen xiǎng chī Zhōngguó cài háishì Fǎguó cài?
      Do you want to eat Chinese food or French food?

    Please note that 还是 (háishì) is for offering options in a question. It should not be used for "or" in statements.

    [adapted from AllSet Learning Chinese Grammar Wiki, Creative Commons License BY-NC-SA 3.0]

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    Any Questions? 

    If you have any questions about this grammar point, please ask in the class forums!