You are here:

Japanese Language/How to express "or" in Japanese


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!

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

Water or milk is thus


Traditionally, you would end the second option with another か as well, which would read as
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,


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:

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

Japanese Language

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Michael DePaula


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


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

Global Underwater Explorers, Okinawa Underwater Explorers, Okinawa Freethought Society

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.

©2016 All rights reserved.