Presenting Options Using ‘Or’

This post is about two simple Korean words I learned which allows you to present two options.  This is similar to the English word ‘or’. These two words are 또는 (ddoneun) and 아니면 (animyeon).  Here are sample phrases:

  • 커피 또는 우유 (kopi ddoneun uyu)
  • 커피 아니면 우유 (kopi animyeon uyu)

Both phrases mean coffee or milk, the difference is that when you use 또는 you are presenting two contrasting ideas therefore  one of the choices will be excluded unlike 아니면 which presents two ideas that are both acceptable.

These words can occur at the beginning of the sentence.  As in the example below:

  • 기차로 갈까요?  아니면 택시로 갈까요?  (Kicharo kalkkayo? Animyon tekshiro kalkkayo?) Should we take the train? Or (else) shall we take a taxi?  In this sample, both options is of course acceptable to the speaker.
  • 영화관에 가지 않았어요. 또는 음악희에도 가지 않았어요. (Yonghwagwane kaji anasseoyo. Ddoneun eumakhui.edo kaji anasseoyo.) I have not been to movie theater [and I don’t like movies anyway]. Nor have I been [on the other hand] to any concert [and I do like concert].   This statement plainly states not being able to go to movie theater the second statement is the same  but with the use of 또는 in the beginning of the second statement the thought enclosed is considered in the overall context of the statement as such the second statement means not being able to go but would like to go.