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  5. "В чём дело?"

"В чём дело?"

Translation:What's the matter?

November 7, 2015

74 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rekty

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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/elsantodel90

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jeffrey855877

People should read the above comment because it is not just an excellent explanation of the meaning of this exercise, it also sets out a framework for interpreting a lot of other Russian sentences. This is an extremely useful bit of grammatical description/definition. I'm copying and pasting it into my study notes in red, so that I can find it easily.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Martin135869

Sounds like two russians are chitchating at the water cooler an the third Russian wants to join the conversation. ("What is the topic?")


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/va-diim

Nope. It's not that


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Miami_14

ohh... so this is not prepositional???


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/va-diim

Дело is the subject of the sentence, so it's in nominative case. "Чём" is the prepositional case of "что" following a preposition


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HartzHandia

You can also say "что случилось?" или "что не так?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rekty

Is В чём дело? common or formal or fancy?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HartzHandia

It is very common. I think it can be used regardless of the speech register.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GuidoSassi

I think "What is the business in/to?" Could be a literal translation


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RussophiliaSux

Sure, but we don't say that in English. So if you memorize it this way, be careful...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JanetGidle

I love your dog.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DavidG430

I agree with GuidoSassi. "In what matter" or "In what business" should be an accepted translation. I will report it as a problem. As was mentioned above, and also in an earlier lesson in Duolingo, they translated "что не так" аs "what is wrong." So there is an alternate way of saying what is wrong.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/keinemeinung

"In what matter" or "In what business" has a different meaning than "What's the matter?" In what matter" would be каким образом или в каком деле; "in what business" would be в какой отрасле или в какой сфере. They don't mean the same thing as В чем дело which basically means "What's wrong".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/QurtQurt

Чё за дела?! - You will sound like a gopnik with it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/excelsaga

I think of the sentence as 'wherein (lies) the issue?'.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lannjenks

That's how I translated it but it didn't like it


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Yuri-Isaenko

обыно это переводится "как дела?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nico353184

I think it has both meanings. In GB it's "what's the matter?". In US, and especially what they call BEV (Black English Vernacular) it seems to be like "what's the news?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/preparat12

I see a striking similarity between the words "deal" and "дело" ("what's the deal?" - "в чём дело?")


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/magpie_gir

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/keinemeinung

@magpie_gir - I've never heard that before, I'm curious if you have a source that explains it further?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/magpie_gir

Russian: делить and дело
English: do

Regards :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/athalaberhtaz

they are etymologically unrelated


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Damiano.Ba3

How this differ from как дело?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/va-diim

Как дело is more like, "How is this thing that you're doing?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/eRcU936226

Famous line from EUGENE ONEGIN--Pushkin and Tchaikovsky


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/emononen

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"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rewm
  • 748

В takes accusative case when it means direction. When it means location, it takes prepositional case: в Москву / в Москве = to Moscow / in Moscow


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wizwisdom

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/peachtree2

Could "what's the situation?" be considered a good translation of this also?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sagie

How about "what's the issue"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/_Maria_B._

I guess so. It's a little less common but should still be accepted. Remember, DL is still in beta, so report anything that you think should be accepted.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Russo_learn

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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/va-diim

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"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/peterviuz

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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Andres756730

Some Spanish native with good knowledge of Russian could tell me if I could use the above sentence as: "Qué pasa contigo, tio?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JanetGidle

Loosely, i believe you could!.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LivingLifeform

What's the Russian word for "Problem" and can it be used here instead?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Denise-Joe

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/keinemeinung

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.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BorjaSalaz

Can you say "what the heck?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Joker-62

Зачем нужен the?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/keinemeinung

English requires an article, because you're discussing/identifying a specific matter/deal.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nico353184

another vote for "What's up?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ema439209

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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/va-diim

Yes, all of these, you are right


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EmmaDulcie

See keinemeinung's previous reply above. This only means "What is wrong?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ema439209

Thank you for clarifying. There are many different opinions to what the meaning was in this tread, so I did not know what the conclusion was. Это в чем дело. (?)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndrewMat85

What's up? is not accepted? Why?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JTDo5

Just to understand.. В чём as a literal translation is "in what"? So it works in cases like" in what the problem is"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/va-diim

"In what is the problem?" Yes.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/___Jake___

Could I use Что не так instead?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/va-diim

That has a negative connotation, like "What's wrong." В чём дело is neutral.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/brittney738636

I don't hear the "в" at the beginning of the Vocalization am I missing something?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/va-diim

It sounds clear although a bit garbled. It sounds like "фчём" ("fchyom")


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Butterflys_Dust

What does чём mean exactly? As in, would "в чём" also be a valid phrase? How could i use в чём with other words?

Thanks!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/va-diim

"in what"

В чём спишь? "In what [clothes] do you sleep?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nicolas161105

What about "What´s up?" :-D


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Miami_14

Is this prepositional case?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/va-diim

в чём, yes. "В" is a preposition.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JeffBramle

"What's the deal?" is a phrase I've used in English that reminds me of this one.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Adam730409

"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?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/keinemeinung

@Adam730409 - Что always declines as a neuter word.

It is kind of weird though - чего/чём/чему/чем.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/va-diim

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."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ElinaCernooka

Is it де́ла or дела́?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/keinemeinung

@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?")


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/va-diim

де́ло /'dʲɛ-lə/

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