Meaning of OR in English

transcription, транскрипция: [ ə(r), STRONG ɔ:(r) ]

Frequency: The word is one of the 700 most common words in English.


You use or to link two or more alternatives.

‘Tea or coffee?’ John asked...

He said he would try to write or call as soon as he reached the Canary Islands...

Students are asked to take another course in English, or science, or mathematics.



You use or to give another alternative, when the first alternative is introduced by ‘either’ or ‘whether’.

Items like bread, milk and meat were either unavailable or could be obtained only on the black market...

Either you can talk to him, or I will...

I don’t know whether people will buy it or not...



You use or between two numbers to indicate that you are giving an approximate amount.

Everyone benefited from limiting their intake of tea to just three or four cups a day...

Normally he asked questions, and had a humorous remark or two.



You use or to introduce a comment which corrects or modifies what you have just said.

The man was a fool, he thought, or at least incompetent...

There was nothing more he wanted, or so he thought...



If you say that someone should do something or something unpleasant will happen, you are warning them that if they do not do it, the unpleasant thing will happen.

She had to have the operation, or she would die.

= otherwise



You use or to introduce something which is evidence for the truth of a statement you have just made.

He must have thought Jane was worth it or he wouldn’t have wasted time on her, I suppose.

= otherwise



You use or no or or not to emphasize that a particular thing makes no difference to what is going to happen.

Chairman or no, if I want to stop the project, I can...

The first difficulty is that, old-fashioned or not, it is very good.

PHRASE : group PHR [ emphasis ]


You use or no between two occurrences of the same noun in order to say that whether something is true or not makes no difference to a situation.

The next day, rain or no rain, it was business as usual...



or else: see else

or other: see other

or so: see so

or something: see something

Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner's English Dictionary.      Английский словарь Коллинз COBUILD для изучающих язык на продвинутом уровне.