We use “or” to give choices, options, and alternatives. Look at this example.
- You can have Coca-Cola or Sprite.
This means you can choose one. You cannot have both.
But, look at this example.
- You can have Coca-Cola and Sprite.
This means that you can have both.
We can use “or” between nouns, adjectives, and prepositional phrases. We can use “or” in sentences and questions.
- Do you want pizza or chicken?
- Does she work at a car company or at an accounting firm?
- Will you visit your parents or your boyfriend next vacation?
- She will be at the coffee shop or at the library.
- We have to be quiet or leave.
- I think I will have the chicken salad or a cheeseburger.
- She can stay or go. It is her choice.
We can also use “or” to connect two sentences. We use it to make two short sentences into one long sentence. Use a comma before “or” when writing.
- She can quit, or we will fire her. It is her choice.
- I will help you, or you can try to do it on your own.
- You can buy tickets at the door, or you can pre-order them online.
- We can return it to the store, or we can send it back by mail.
- We can either work late Friday night, or we can come into work on Saturday morning.
- I will help you, or she will help you.
We can also add the choices after a complete question. This is most commonly used when speaking.
- Where did you go – Thailand or Japan?
- What do you want to do – see a movie or go bowling?
- How do you want to go there – by bus or by taxi?
- Why do you like her – because she is nice or because she is pretty?
Bonus Tips and Points
1. Sometimes we use “or” when we are making a threat, warning somebody, or telling the consequences of an action.
- Finish the project, or you will be fired.
- Come on time, or we will leave without you.
- Give it to me, or I will punch you in the face.
2. We often use “or else” when making a threat, giving a warning, or telling about consequences.
- You need to come on time, or else you will get in trouble.
- She must tell the police the truth, or else she will go to jail.
- Tell me, or else I’ll hurt you.
Sometimes, we end the sentence with “or else”. In these cases, we are not telling the other person exactly what we will do. We assume that they know, or we let them imagine.
- Tell me the truth or else.
- She needs to be successful on this project or else.
- Win or else.
3. It is very common to use “either…or…”. “Either” just emphasizes the choices.
- We can eat either pizza or chicken.
- I want to either visit a place with great museums or a place with a beautiful beach.
- He should either stop complaining all the time or quit his job.
Real-World English Conversations
A) Do you have any time today or tomorrow?
B) I have time today. What’s up?
A) Nothing major. I just need to talk to you about the project.
A) We have a 3-day weekend this week. Do you want to go somewhere, or do you want to stay home?
B) Three days is not really a lot of time. So, I think I would rather stay home and eat something delicious like pizza or chicken.
A) Do you want to watch a horror or action movie?
B) I prefer action movies.
A) Sounds good. What do you want to eat – popcorn or candy?
B) Get me both, please.
Study these free English lessons to improve your English speaking. If you learn these common sentence patterns well, then your English speaking will improve greatly and you will be able to have fluent conversations in English in the near future! Study the lessons well, practice using the sentences and questions at home and in real life, and make sure to come back to review the material so you do not forget. If you do these three things, then you will be speaking English like a native English speaker in no time!