How to say “or” in Russian: difference between или and либо

Both "или" and "либо" mean "or" in Russian (or when used in succesion, "either...or"). There is hardly any difference in meaning between the two words. That being said, there is a nuanced difference in their usage.

"Или" vs. "либо" nuance

"Или" is a complete equivalent of "or" in English and is extremely common.

"Либо" is used in more old-fashioned, archaic text, and is much less common. The word has a slight difference in use, where it means "or" as in "one or the other." "Либо" excludes the other option, while "или" does not.

Example sentences with "или" and "либо"

  • Добро пожаловать! Хочешь чай или кофе? = Welcome! Would you like tea or coffee?
  • Мы можем встреться либо в понедельник либо в среду. = We can meet either on Monday or Wednesday.
  • Или пан или пропал. = Sink or swim (expression).
  • Либо да, либо нет. = Take it or leave it (expression).
  • Или ты забыл или ты не знал. = Either you forgot or you didn't know.
  • Либо лекарство, либо нет. = Either there is a cure or there isn't.
  • Какую таблетку ты выберешь красную или синюю? = Which pill would you choose, red or blue?
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