One of the common uses of the particle か
is often translated to ‘or’ in English. While this translation is accurate, it is not actually any different from か
’s regular usage as a question marker.
Are those mom's shoes, or dad's shoes?
Are those mom's shoes? Dad's shoes?
From these examples, we can see that, in Japanese, か
is performing the same role that a question mark would, or that a change in tone of voice would in spoken language.
‘Would you like tea? coffee?’ (said with a rising tone)
This nuance of か
can be used after the dictionary form of almost any word in Japanese. However, using です
or ます will change the nuance from ‘presenting possibilities’, to ‘asking a formal question’, so should be avoided.
Today or tomorrow, when will I take a break? (The speaker is thinking this to themselves)
Will you take a break today or tomorrow? (The speaker is asking another person)