1

In the following sentences:

Heißt sie nicht Kaminski oder so?

Wir können was trinken gehen oder so.

Can we use "oder sowas"?

And here:

Sie arbeitet für eine Bank oder so was.

Was sind Sie, ein Leibwächter oder sowas?

Can we use "oder so"?

And here, we only have was:

He, bist du betrunken oder was?

1 Answer 1

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Heißt sie nicht Kaminski oder so?

Here "oder so" is elliptic for "oder so ähnlich".

Wir können was trinken gehen oder so.

While here "oder so" is used as "oder so etwas [ähnliches tun]".

"sowas" or "so was" (both spellings are okay) is short for "so etwas". So clearly, you could say

Wir können was trinken gehen oder sowas/so etwas.

but it makes the sentence sound stiffer while the message is very casual.

Clearly, if you say

Heißt sie nicht Kaminski oder sowas/so etwas?

you changed the meaning of the sentence. This sentence is borderline wrong because names are usually not considered things ("etwas"). In some situations and regions native speakers might say this (to express disdain) but it's not standard German.

Sie arbeitet für eine Bank oder so was.

"oder so was" short for "oder so etwas", which is fine because companies are things grammatically. You can shorten to "oder so".

Was sind Sie, ein Leibwächter oder sowas?

Same as above. Bodyguards are things grammatically.

He, bist du betrunken oder was?

This is elliptic for

He, bist du betrunken oder was ist los?

so it's unrelated to the other sentences.

3
  • Thanks for the life-saving comment. Can I take it as a rule that "oder so" always works and is the safe-to-go option? Aug 21, 2021 at 13:11
  • 1
    @KeNSmilePachI Yes, "oder so" almost always works to hint at an alternative.
    – idmean
    Aug 21, 2021 at 15:30
  • The safest option is to avoid such addage. A raising tone is genedally enough to mark a question as such. Whether oder so, any of the alternarives or sum such are advisable cannot be judged triviallly. It is generally too broad to ask, quite off-topoc for this site.
    – vectory
    Aug 22, 2021 at 0:46

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