No. 5 of 5 Common Spoken Chinese Mistakes to Avoid when you learn Chinese online

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It's time to go to No. 5 of 5 Common Spoken Chinese Mistakes to Avoid today.What will it be? It is about how to use Chinese word OR correctly.

#5 "Saying A Or B" is not that simple in Chinese as in English.

A:你(nǐ) 喝(hē) 什(shén)么(me)?| What would you like to drink?

B:我(wǒ) 喝(hē)水(shuǐ) 还(hái)是(shì) 茶(chá)。

VS 我(wǒ) 喝(hē)水(shuǐ) 或(huò)者(zhě) 茶(chá) I would like to drink Water or Tea.

This is actually a simple grammar mistake, but most students make it often when they start to know and use “or” in Chinese, even quite long after they know the differences from the book or teachers.

Why? Let’s be simple.

还(hái)是(shì) to be used when you ask a questions with “or”, like

  • Do you like A or B?”, 你(nǐ)喜(xǐ)欢(huan)A 还(hái)是(shì)B
  • Do you go to Beijing or Shanghai? 你(nǐ) 去(qù)北(běi)京(jīng) 还(hái)是(shì) 上(shàng)海(hǎi)

或(huò)者(zhě) to be used in a statement/answer, meaning both are ok, like

  • I want to buy a shirt or T-shirt 我(wǒ)想(xiǎng)买(mǎi)一(yī)件(jiàn)衬(chèn)衫(shān)或(huò)者(zhě)T恤(xù)衫(shān)。
  • A:你(nǐ)喝(hē)什(shén)么(me)?B:我(wǒ) 喝(hē)水(shuǐ)或(huò)者(zhě)茶(chá)。(A:What would you like to drink? B:Water or tea, please.)

Let’s do a quiz to check if you understand now.

1.Are you David or Michael? 你是David_________Michael?

2.Tom or Bob will help you with it. Tom_________Bob 会帮助你.

This post will not be the last one although it's no.5 of 5 common mistakes. I will keep on sharing the often made mistakes by foreigners who really learn Chinese so that it may help you avoid them.

Also, i'd like to share a very helpful wechat with daily Chinese learning resources and information. the id is "talk2chinesepal". You can also add it by scanning the QR Code here:

I know there are also mistakes in my English writing.Any help from you in telling me is much more than appreciated.

Also, feel free to comment with any of your questions related to Chinese learning or China and i will be happy to help.

Cheers to your happiness and Chinese learning,

Frank Wu

SNMandarin Chinese Academy,


If you didn't have time to read the other 4 common mistakes, you can go to those posts throuth the following links.

l#1 Chinese never say 你(nǐ) 好(hǎo) 吗(ma)?!!! o

#2 我(wǒ) 是(shì)叫(jiào)Annie VS我(wǒ)是(shì)Annie / 我(wǒ)叫(jiào)Annie (I‘m Annie) ,

#3 I will go to the US next Sept. or I next Sept. will go to the US?

# 4 我(wǒ) 喜(xǐ)欢(huan) 学(xué)习(xí) 汉(hàn)语(yǔ) 在(zài)SN Mandarin

VS 我(wǒ) 喜(xǐ)欢(huan)在(zài)SN Mandarin 学(xué)习(xí) 汉(hàn)语(yǔ)

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