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Expressing "either... or..." with "yaome"

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When used by itself, 要么 is a not-so-pushy suggestion. But when used for a pair of choices, it gives a much more hardline "either/or" feel: these are the two choices. Choose one. (It can also be used for more than two choices, but it's usually just two.) In this case, 要不 acts exactly like 要么.

Structure

You can give a series of alternatives by using 要么 (yàome). The structure is pretty versatile, as you can put a wide variety of things after each 要么.

It can be used both for commands and non-commands.

要么 + Option A ,要么 + Option B

Examples

  • 要么 你 去,要么 他 去 。Yàome nǐ qù, yàome tā qù.Either you go, or he goes.
  • 要么 继续 ,要么 放弃 。Yàome jìxù, yàome fàngqì.Either keep going or give up.
  • 要么 好好 做 ,要么 就 别 做 。Yàome hǎohǎo zuò, yàome jiù bié zuò.You either do it well or don't do it.
  • 要么 现在 就 买 ,要么 现在 就 走 。Yàome xiànzài jiù mǎi, yàome xiànzài jiù zǒu.Either buy it now, or we get out of here now.
  • 要么 回 老家 ,要么 留在 上海 。yàome huí lǎojiā, yàome liúzài Shànghǎi.You either go back to hometown or stay in Shanghai.
  • 要么 看书 ,要么 写 作业 ,不 可以 出去 玩 。Yàome kànshū, yàome xiě zuòyè, bù kěyǐ chūqù wán.You either read or do homework. No playing outside.
  • 要么 继续 找工作 ,要么 创业 ,不能 什么 都 不做 。Yàome jìxù zhǎo gōngzuò, yàome chuàngyè, bù néng shénme dōu bù zuò.Either keeping looking for a job or start your own business. You can't just sit around doing nothing.
  • 要么 加入 我们 队,要么 加入 他们 队 。yàome jiārù wǒmen duì, yàome jiārù tāmen duì.You either join our team or their team.
  • 去年 夏天 ,我 每天 要么 去 健身,要么 去 图书馆,特别 无聊 。Qùnián xiàtiān, wǒ měi tiān yàome qù jiànshēn, yàome qù túshūguǎn, tèbié wúliáo.Last summer I either went to the gym or the library every day. It was so boring.
  • 我 老公 周末 要么 睡觉 ,要么 打 游戏 ,从来 不 做 家务 。Wǒ lǎogōng zhōumò yàome shuìjiào, yàome dǎ yóuxì, cónglái bù zuò jiāwù.My husband either sleeps or plays video games on weekends. He never does chores.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books