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Japanese Language/How to express "or" in Japanese

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Question
Hi, I have been learning Japanese and have encountered a problem that I see vaguely and in contradictory ways online. I am interested in knowing how to say or express the English "or", as in X or Y. If I were to way "water or milk" or something similar, or larger like "would you like water or milk", how would it be stated? Thanks so much!

Answer
To express the sentiment of "or", you would use か (ka) between nouns.

Water or milk is thus

水か牛乳
(みずかぎゅうにゅう).

Traditionally, you would end the second option with another か as well, which would read as
水か牛乳か
(みずかぎゅうにゅうか),
but this second method has fallen out of favor in common everyday speech.

One place it is more common to see か used after each option is in a question statement. So your example of, "Would you like water or milk?" can accurately be asked as,

水が欲しいですか?牛乳が欲しいですか?
(みずがほしいですか?ぎゅうにゅうがほしいですか?)

This sounds strange to English speakers since you essentially have to ask the same question twice, with one new option listed each time. Because of this, it is more common to hear the question phrased a bit differently, as a "which"-type question:

どっちが欲しいですか?水か牛乳(か)?
(どっちがほしいですか?みずかぎゅうにゅう[か])? <-- Notice the optional, second "ka" at the end.  

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Michael DePaula

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Anything pertaining to daily conversation, music, historical/modern forms of Japanese-character writing, computer/IT-related vocabulary, and aquatic sciences.

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14 years of Japanese study with about 10 of those years in Japan.

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Degree in Music Performance, University of Southern California. 10+ years working the IT/computer programming world. 8 years of amateur translation assistance. 8 years in marine conservation/technical dive exploration in Japan.

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