"В чём дело?"
Translation:What's the matter?
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In what affair? as a litteral translation seems so weird. I guess it's another translation to remember by heart... :p
Is there an alternate translation for What's the matter?? Is this one the most common?
The literal translation is not "In what matter", but "In what is the matter" (дело is nomitative, not prepositional, so it is subject, not part of the "in"). Instead of asking "what" the matter is, or "where" the matter is, Russian asks "in what" it is: what is it, that "contains" the matter.
Дело is the subject of the sentence, so it's in nominative case. "Чём" is the prepositional case of "что" following a preposition
It is very common. I think it can be used regardless of the speech register.
I think "What is the business in/to?" Could be a literal translation
Sure, but we don't say that in English. So if you memorize it this way, be careful...
it's been 5 years and they still haven't corrected it! Here, have a lingot!
I see a striking similarity between the words "deal" and "дело" ("what's the deal?" - "в чём дело?")
The English deal is a cognate to the Russian дели́ть 'to part, to separate, to divide, to disjoin'.
While the Russian дело is a cognate to the English deed and do.
"Deal" has multiple meanings in English, both as a verb and as a noun. "What's the deal?" is a common colloquialism meaning "What's going on?" "What's his deal?" or "What's the deal with him?" can mean "What's his story?" or "What's his problem?" https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deal
@magpie_gir - I've never heard that before, I'm curious if you have a source that explains it further?
In czech: 1. dělat=to do 2. dělit=to divide :) In slovak: 1. robiť=to do 2. deliť=to divide
In Russian: 1. делать (dělať)=to do 2. делить (dělíť)=to divide :) In Ukrainian: 1. робити (robyty)=to do 2. ділити (dilyty)=to divide
in bulgarian the cognate "дялам" means to do something with a tool (e.g. chizzle, chip). the word for do is "правя" or "върша" деля = I divide
Why the accusative rule for в (https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Russian/Grammar/Accusative_case) does not apply here? I.e. why is it "в чëм" instead of "в что"?
В takes accusative case when it means direction. When it means location, it takes prepositional case: в Москву / в Москве = to Moscow / in Moscow
It is used in the prepositional case to denote something like "What is the matter (in/at this place)". But, I guess we just have to learn this by heart.
Could "what's the situation?" be considered a good translation of this also?
What does чём mean exactly? As in, would "в чём" also be a valid phrase? How could i use в чём with other words?
"What's the deal?" is a phrase I've used in English that reminds me of this one.
В чём дело? I know that you can use the чём to mean a guy and/or an object, but if I was asking a woman what was the matter could I say в чей дело?
No, чём can't mean a guy. You're thinking of нём. Also, в чей дело means "in whose business/issues/affairs," having nothing to do with a female person in particular. I think you're thinking of "ней," not "чей"
Are we sure this means " What's the matter?" i.e. What's the problem?, or does it mean "What about?" i.e. On what subject?
Some Spanish native with good knowledge of Russian could tell me if I could use the above sentence as: "Qué pasa contigo, tio?"
The russian word is simply проблема. But I have no idea if you can use it in this context :P I suppose you'd be understood if you did.
You can, and it's fine, but you're specifying a negative situation when you say problem, whereas with delo it has a slightly more neutral connotation.
English requires an article, because you're discussing/identifying a specific matter/deal.
I have read all the previous comments and I am still confused. What is the intended meaning of В чём Дело.
-- "What is the matter?" as in What is wrong? (what the most common interpretation of the English sentence is) -- or "what is the matter at hand" as in What are we talking about? What is the agenda?" -- or something else?
Just to understand.. В чём as a literal translation is "in what"? So it works in cases like" in what the problem is"?
That has a negative connotation, like "What's wrong." В чём дело is neutral.
I don't hear the "в" at the beginning of the Vocalization am I missing something?
"What's the matter?" made sense to me, so the next question I had was if чём changed with the gender of the person you are talking to or about?
@Adam730409 - Что always declines as a neuter word.
It is kind of weird though - чего/чём/чему/чем.
No. The nouns themselves are masculine, feminine or neuter. It has nothing to do with a person you're talking to our about. "Что" takes the prepositional case "чём" because it follows the preposition "в" implying location "in what."
@ElinaCernooka - де́ла for singular genitive (Доказательство этого дела - The evidence of the case, sounds kind of weird but... that's an example of how that might be used), дела́ for nominative plural ("Как дела?")