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?
It is very common. I think it can be used regardless of the speech register.
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.
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.
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.
"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".
Sure, but we don't say that in English. So if you memorize it this way, be careful...
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?"
I see a striking similarity between the words "deal" and "дело" ("what's the deal?" - "в чём дело?")
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?
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. (?)
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.
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.
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.
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?
English requires an article, because you're discussing/identifying a specific matter/deal.
I don't hear the "в" at the beginning of the Vocalization am I missing something?
What does чём mean exactly? As in, would "в чём" also be a valid phrase? How could i use в чём with other words?
Could "what's the situation?" be considered a good translation of this also?
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"
Some Spanish native with good knowledge of Russian could tell me if I could use the above sentence as: "Qué pasa contigo, tio?"
Just to understand.. В чём as a literal translation is "in what"? So it works in cases like" in what the problem is"?