Tai is used in commands and in affirmative sentences, but also in questions. In a question, tai is used when there is a hidden idea of for example or or something else.
- Osta mansikoita tai kirsikoita. - Buy strawberries or cherries.
- Mä soitan sulle huomenna tai ylihuomenna. - I'll call you tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.
- Haluatko omenan tai appelsiinin? - Do you want an apple or an orange? (For example. Or something else to eat? You don't have to take anything.) Compare: Haluatko omenan vai appelsiinin? = I assume that you want either an apple or an orange, so now tell me which one.
If you want to be really annoying in Finnish, end all your sentences with tai jotain, which means or something.
Vai is used when you have a certain amount of choices and you have to pick one. Vai is only used in questions. (Usually foreigners tend to overuse this one.)
- Otatko kahvia, teetä vai mehua? - Will you take coffee, tea or juice?
- Menisinkö elokuviin vai jäisinkö kotiin? - Should I go to the movies or should I stay at home?
Another common use of vai is vai mitä at the end of the sentence.
- Tavataan keskustassa, vai mitä? - Let's meet in downtown, right? (or what?)
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About the author of this blog:
My name is Hanna Männikkölahti. I am a professional Finnish teacher who gives private online lessons and simplifies books into easy Finnish. You can contact me through www.privatefinnishlessons.com. Subscribe to this blog from the right-hand banner.