Offering choices with "haishi"

还是 (háishì) is used in Chinese to provide options in a question. This is equivalent to one of our uses of "or" in English.

Simplest Form


Option A + 还是 + Option B ?

When you're asked a question of this form, there are two ways you're expected to answer: either Option A or Option B. (Pick one, but not both.) It's not that no other answers are possible, it's that usually when you're asked a question this way, the person asking expects you to just choose one. For example, if asked if you'd like to drink coffee or tea, most people are going to choose one or the other, not ask for both. 还是 (háishì) is used to ask people to make that choice between the two.


  • 还是 háishì tā?Me or him?
  • 一 个 还是 两 个Yī gè háishì liǎng gè?One or two?
  • 辣 的 还是 不 辣 的Là de háishì bù là de?Spicy or non-spicy?
  • 冰 的 还是 热 的Bīng de háishì rè de?Cold or hot?
  • 上海 还是 北京The eternal China expat question! Choose wisely...Shànghǎi háishì Běijīng?Shanghai or Beijing?

Full Sentence Form


You can take the structure above, add a subject and a verb, and create all kinds of questions with the following structure:

Subj. + Verb + Option A + 还是 + Option B ?


  • 这 是 还是 Zhè shì shuǐ háishì jiǔ?Is this water or alcohol?
  • 他 是 美国 人 还是 英国 人Tā shì Měiguó rén háishì Yīngguó rén?Is he American or British?
  • 你 喜欢 还是 我 的 钱Nǐ xǐhuan háishì wǒ de qián?Do you like me or my money?
  • 你 要 喝 还是 咖啡Nǐ yào hē chá háishì kāfēi?Do you want to drink tea or coffee?
  • 你们 想 吃 中国 菜 还是 法国 菜Nǐmen xiǎng chī Zhōngguó cài háishì Fǎguó cài?Do you want to eat Chinese food or French food?

Please note that 还是 (háishì) is for offering options in a question. It should not be used for "or" in statements.

See also

Sources and Further Reading