Háishì (还是) vs. Huòzhě (或者)

Some Chinese learners also mix up “hái shì(还是)” with “huò zhě(或者)” as they both mean “or”. However, there is a big difference between “hái shì(还是)” and “huò zhě(或者)” when it comes to the usage of these two words. “hái shì(还是)” is usually used to ask questions such as “Do you want to drink tea or coffee?”; “Do you like Shanghai or Beijing?”, it’s like someone is asking you to make a choice from two or more options. “huò zhě(或者)” is used to make a statement like “Either tea or coffee is OK.” Now let’s have a look at some examples to help you understand the difference between the two words:



Do you want tea or coffee?

Chinese (Pinyin)

nǐ  yào  chá  hái shì  kā fēi?

Chinese (Character)


when to use or tea or coffee



Do you like Shanghai or Beijing?

Chinese (Pinyin)

nǐ  xǐ huān  shàng hǎi  hái shì  běi jīng?

Chinese (Character)




A: Do you want to drink tea or coffee?

B: Either tea or coffee is OK.

Chinese (Pinyin):

A: nǐ  yào  chá  hái shì  kā fēi?

B: chá  huò zhě  kā fēi。

Chinese (Character):

A: 你要茶还是咖啡?

B: 茶或者咖啡。


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