6

How do I translate “Please select either A or B.”

Can the “or” be translated directly, or would I have to work around it like

AもBは, ひとつを選ぶください。

3
  • Question for linguistics stackexchange, maybe: in what languages (other than formal logic) is an "OR" choice between two items or alternatives understood as inclusive?
    – Kaz
    Sep 30 '20 at 18:40
  • 1
    @Kaz In Finnish, if the or in a question is tai (e.g: ‘Maitoa tai sokeria?’, ‘milk or sugar?’), it is an inclusive or but if it is vai (e.g: ‘autolla vai junalla?’, ‘by car or by train?’) it is exclusive or. I’m not sure about statements that aren’t questions though; I believe vai is not used in those.
    – Jan
    Oct 1 '20 at 9:55
  • @Kaz See here
    – user40476
    Oct 26 '20 at 16:13
11

または and どちらか (いずれか is more the formal version, どっちか is more casual) can only be exclusive.

AまたはB、一つだけ選んでください。

This a pretty strong way to say only choose one.

In cases where you don't have to be so emphatic,

AかBのどっちかを選んで。

is a normal way to say it.

3
  • how about 「それか」and 「それとも」? Sep 30 '20 at 5:11
  • You could also use いずれか instead of どちらか for a more formal situation.
    – istrasci
    Sep 30 '20 at 5:21
  • @FelipeOliveira それか is just それ + か so it's not actually it's own word meaning "or", that meaning just comes from the か. それとも doesn't work in the OP's example either so I left it out.
    – By137
    Sep 30 '20 at 7:01
8

The most standard way to say it is:

AとBのどちらかを選んでください。

Although there's plenty of ways you can spin it:

AとBのいずれかを選んでください。
Choose between A and B.

AとBの中から一つ選んでください。
Pick one from A and B.

AかBか一つ選んでください。
Choose one, A or B.

AかBを選んでください。
Choose A or B.

A、またはBを選んでください。
Choose A, or choose B.

A、あるいはBを選んでください。
Choose A, or choose B.

... and so on.

This is without taking into consideration formality or honorifics. If you take those into consideration as well, you have even more combinations to work with. You can use the -て form on its own (選んで), polite imperative form (選びなさい), 選んで頂戴, etc. etc.

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