I'm writing up something in Chinese, and want to write the following (irrelevant information redacted):

Do I need to bring XXX? [...] Or I can just bring a photocopy of it?

I'm not completely sure what the correct form of "or" is here. It's clear that if this were Cantonese, I would use "定係", but this isn't a word in Mandarin, and at least intuitively speaking, I wouldn't use "或者" (at least not without a lot of rephrasing).

Would using "还是" be appropriate (in conveying the same meaning) here?

Translation, with what I believe to be correct.

我需要带 XXX 吗?[...] 还是只要带影印本吗?

But using "还是" at the beginning of the sentence feels slightly awkward, if only since the examples I'd been taught in school involved use of it to express a different option within the same sentence, instead of breaking the options up.

  • Update: I have a very strong feeling that it works, but that since my Mandarin is somewhat more "formal" than my Cantonese, it just feels more awkward to me since I'm less used to using the word in this set-up. But I'll keep the question since the general gist of it should still be useful.
    – user5714
    Jul 14, 2014 at 20:31
  • 4
    "But using "还是" at the beginning of the sentence feels slightly awkward" It's also awkward to use "Or" at the beginning of a sentence in English, or use "定係" at the beginning of a sentence in Cantonese. If you're okay with that, then I think you should be okay with using "还是" at the beginning of a sentence in Mandarin.
    – user102008
    Jul 14, 2014 at 23:55
  • 1
    Using 还是 at the beginning of a sentence is colloquial/informal but not awkward, if by awkward you're referring to lack of language proficiency.
    – NS.X.
    Jul 22, 2014 at 22:22

2 Answers 2


Split it up to questions, omit the second modal particle "吗"

我需要带 XXX 吗?[...] 还是只要带影印本?

or, combine into one sentence, omit the second verb "带"

我需要带XXX, [...] 还是只要影印本?


No reason to split this into two sentences.

XXX here we can just call this 原件.

Photocopy is 复印件

Since we are asking between two things we would need to use 还是.


Examples of usages (from a quick baidu search)


去医院生产要带哪些证件? 原件还是复印件??



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