Armenian Language Corner

The Choice Is Not Just One

The conjunction or may become a tricky one in Armenian. Unlike English, where you use or to give alternatives, the Armenian language has two different choices.

When someone gives you indications about where to look for something, the sentence is:

You can look either here or there.

            Դուք կրնաք նայիլ հոս կամ հոն:

            Took gurnak nayil hos gam hon.


In this case, the word gam (կամ) marks the alternative.

However, let’s say that you are in doubt about where to look. In such a case, you would say:


I did not know where to look: here or there?


Many people are inclined to use gam here, which is wrong, because it is only suitable for affirmative sentences like the previous one. If you are in an interrogative mood, the only correct answer is te (թէ):


Չէի գիտեր ուր նայիլ՝ հո՞ս, թէ հոն։

Chei kider oor nayil՝ hos, te hon?


All languages, including English and Armenian, have their subtleties. It takes time and effort to get used to them.