In English (and Spanish), "or" ("o") can be between things. In Spanish, if negating, both items are preceded by "ni".

I'm looking at sample sentences in Chinese, and sometimes I see


but in others, the first 或 is not there.

Is this arbitrary, or is there a simple or complex rule to know which to use?

I was about to write 我沒有或姐姐或哥哥。

  • 2
    我既沒有姐姐也没有哥哥 see dictionaries, e.g. ichacha: neither…nor (既)不…也不,(既)非…也非; 既不…也不…... & much more, iciba
    – user6065
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 15:14

3 Answers 3


"____或____" = "____or____"

Example :

我沒有姐姐(者)哥哥 (I don't have sister or brother)

"是____或是____" = "is ____or____"

Example :

來的姐姐或是哥哥都不要緊 (It doesn't matter the one who comes is sister or brother)


"或____或____" = "either____ or____"


全部隊員(者)死(者)傷,我们已經沒法再戦 (All team members either died or injured, we can fight no longer)

"或是____或是____" = "is either____ or____"

Example: 來的或是姐姐, 或是哥哥, 總之不會是父母 (The one who comes is either sister or brother, in short, will not be parents)

I was about to write 我沒有或姐姐或哥哥。

As user6065 stated:

既沒有姐姐也没有哥哥 (I have neither sister nor brother)

既有姐姐也有哥哥 (I have sister and also brother)


Chinese seldom use 或. There is usually other ways to express the idea.

I do not have any sisters or brothers. 我没有姐妹没有兄弟。

You’d better hurry, or you will be late. 快点,要不然就迟到了。

They either died or escaped. 他们不是死了就是逃了。 Note that the Chinese sentence literally means “if they did not die, then they escaped.” If you have some mathematics or logic background, you may have noticed that in English, the primitive logical operators are “and”, “or”, and “not”. But in Chinese, the primitive logical operators are “and”, “implies” and “not”. “If not A, then B” is logically equivalent to “A or B”.


You may compare 或 in Chinese with "⋁" in logic or "or" in the languages in Europe. In Chinese it does not express choice, but rather express something or someone else is the same,or express enumeration. To express choice is a simulation to the languages in Europe. It is not natural in speech of the illiterate

One historic reason for such a usage is that in ancient Chinese, 或 mean there are someone, or someone.


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