If I wanted to say:

If I am cooking or washing clothes, please help.


I know sometimes か is used to mean "or", but wouldn't that be confused with the question of whether I'm cooking?

Thanks for your help.

1 Answer 1


If you want to keep the structure, you could use したり~している as in


“If you see (the person) cooking or washing clothes (or cleaning), please help (the person).”

or if you don’t care about the structure, you could maybe use


“You really should help with cooking and washing the clothes (and cleaning / other things).”



”Please help me with (chores like) cooking or washing the clothes.”

Using か in the way you refer to would not be interpreted as a question (unless you make it sound like the sentence ends there, of course), but it would not be used in this context since it’s used to denote uncertainty. Kind of like


“Whether they are cooking, or whether they are washing the clothes… either way, you ought to help.”



I.e. “you should determine whether they are cooking or whether they are washing clothes before attempting to assist them (otherwise you’ll be in for a world of trouble).” Basically, you could use it for hypotheticals in this way.

  • 1
    In your last example the English translation sounds like you will be in trouble if you don't correctly determine the activity, i.e. if you try to help with washing when the person is actually cooking. But, in the Japanese sentence it sounds to me like you determine the correct activity and you will be in trouble if you don't help with it. Which interpretation did you mean? If my interpretation of the Japanese is wrong could you explain why please? Thanks. Commented May 18, 2019 at 8:09
  • @user3856370 The emphasis is on the 「ちゃんと確認してから」 so it matches your interpretation of the English version. To place the emphasis on the "assist" part you could say「料理をしているか洗濯をしているかを確認し、ちゃんと手伝うべきだ」
    – VVayfarer
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 8:28
  • @user3856370 Then again, you could also place the emphasis there simply by using the tone of your voice. Normally you would read the above sentence as 「(…) ちゃんと確認してから手伝うべきだ」, but if you said it like 「(…) ちゃんと確認してから 手伝うべきだ 」, you could certainly interpret it the other way. This is less natural though, since you would usually phrase it differently, like in the example I gave above.
    – VVayfarer
    Commented May 18, 2019 at 8:42

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .