View Full Version : "Or"

01-28-2008, 11:58 AM
So in Japanese we learned that if you want to say "is A B or C?" you say "AはBですかCですか". However, what if your "or" statement isn't central to what you're saying? Say, for example, you have a girl friend and want to ask her if she has a boyfriend. She's from place A but lives in place B, and you want to say "Do you have a boyfriend in place A or place B?" If you use ですか〜ですか form, that's like saying "Is your boyfriend in place A or place B?", isn't it? How do you get around that? Thanks.

01-28-2008, 12:20 PM
I would probably say something like "<Person>のボイフレンドは、Aにいるか、Bにいるか?

But then again, that's just me and it's early and I'm probably wrong.

Rinoa Iam
01-28-2008, 10:42 PM
Okay, I hope this is relevant to what you are asking. In short, my opinion is that there is a way to use "or" directly, but it depends on if the context is understood or not (just in case you don't want to read my long-winded rambling).

There is a word that I sometimes use to distinctly emphasize "or." That word is それとも。

As far as I understand, you can use it pretty similar to English "or." Then again, you could also say it's used like the か…か form you have already used.

Does your boyfriend live in Tokyo? Or in Yokohama?

This is the construct that is similar to what you have already learned. Actually.....it is the same exact thing with "soretomo"* thrown in the middle, lol. So, to back up what I said about it being similar to using English "or," I will quote from one of my grammar books (A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar, p. 422)

"...if the context is clear, abbreviated questions may occur in informal speech."

Sashimi? Or sukiyaki?

In other words, I would say you can omit the formalities 何々ですか、何々ですか if the context is understood and if the situation does not call for more formal speech. So, if the person you are speaking to understands the context of it, go ahead and use ここか、あそこか or ここ?それとも、あそこ?

Does that help at all? >_< I'm beginning to wonder myself if there is any way to get around the long structure...

*Oh, I should note, as my book points out, soretomo connects two alternatives, while ka marks an alternative. So, "soretomo" appears with "ka," but not in place of "ka." 気をつけてね。

This will be plaguing my thoughts for a long time, I fear. LOL.