Differences between HAY and HOẶC in Vietnamese

HAY vs HOẶC

Hay and hoặc are both translated as "or" in English. However, they are not the same in terms of meaning and usage.

In summary, here are the key differences between hay and hoặc in Vietnamese.

  • Hay is used to give a list of suggestions, whereas Hoặc is used to talk about a single choice "either...or" between possibilities.

  • Hay can be used to form a question, an affirmative, and a negative statement, whereas Hoặc can only be used to form an affirmative statement.

  • Hay is often placed before the last option, whereas Hoặc can be placed between options or before each option.

HAY

Hay is used to list out the choices between two or more options.

They are optional (like suggestions) so you can choose one or more within the given options or even suggest something else.

Hay là is often used in spoken Vietnamese, where the word does not have a meaning and is not translated.

Hay is often placed before the last choice or option in the sentence.

Hay can be used to form a question and an affirmative sentence.

Example 1:

  • Bạn muốn đi ăn hay là đi coi phim?
    You want to go eat or go to watch a movie?

which infers that you can (1) choose between going to eat and watching a movie, (2) do both activities, (3) or suggest a different activity.

Example 2:

  • Phở hay là Bún Bò đều rất là ngon.
    Pho or Bun Bo are both very delicious.

Hay can also be used in a negative sentence to express uncertainty about something, just like "whether...or".

Example 3:

  • Mình không biết nên đi ăn hay là đi coi phim.
    I don't know whether should go eat or go to watch a movie.

Hay can also be used to make a suggestion, just like "How about ...?"

Example 4:

  • Hay là tụi mình đi uống cà phê?
    Or / How about we go to drink coffee?

HOẶC

Hoặc is used to talk about a final choice between two or more possibilities, just like "either...or..." in English.

Hoặc là is often used in spoken Vietnamese, where the word is not translated.

Hoặc can only be used to form an affirmative statement (cannot be used to form a question).

Example 1:

  • Tụi mình có thể đi ăn hoặc là đi coi phim.
    We can (either) go eat or go to watch a movie.

which infers that we can either (1) go eat, or (2) go watch a movie, but not feasible to do both.

Example 2:

  • Mình thường coi phim trên TV hoặc là trên Netflix.
    I often watch movies (either) on TV or on netflix.

Example 3:

  • Tuần này hoặc là tuần sau mình đi Hà Nội.
    (Either) This week or next week I'll go to Hanoi.

Hoặc can be placed before each option.

Example 4:

  • Hoặc là phở, hoặc là bún bò. Bạn ăn cái nào?
    Either pho, or bun bo. Which one do you eat?

You CAN rephrase:

  • (✓) Bạn ăn cái nào? Phở hay là Bún Bò?
    Which one do you eat? Pho or Bun Bo?

You CANNOT say:

  • (𐄂) Bạn ăn cái nào? Phở hoặc là Bún Bò?
    Which one do you eat? Pho or Bun Bo?

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