1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Russian
  4. >
  5. "Зачем она готовит?"

"Зачем она готовит?"

Translation:Why does she cook?

November 22, 2015



I guess she's hungry...


"What for" would be a better option, yes. Like, when they* are cooking sth special for an occasion.


Simply , it's a duty .


I give you a lingot for your fine sarcasm which people obviously didn't understand :)


Why not "почему"? It was explicitly stated that "зачем" is not used only by a few... Is there a difference between the two then?


I'd also like to have a shot at this. (I am just a learner, so I am more than happy to be corrected by a native speaker.) I couldn't find much information on this in the reference grammar I have, but this is how I understand the difference between почему and зачем: You use зачем when you want to ask someone about his aim or purpose in doing something. (Accordingly, it is supposed that the action in question has been performed on a voluntary basis.) A straightforward example would be: "Зачем ты это делаешь?" ('What are you doing this for?' 'What is your purpose in doing this?') In contrast, почему can be used somewhat more widely, and requires a more factual answer. Think for instance of the questions asked in the natural sciences; they will all contain the word почему and not зачем, because things in the natural realm usually do not have aims of their own. (If you know German, it is helpful to think of зачем and почему as the translations of 'wozu/weshalb/weswegen' and 'warum/wieso', respectively.)


Essentially, почему looks to the past because it asks what previous event caused something (cause and effect), and зачем looks to the future because it asks what future outcome was or is intended (purpose).

In English, both meanings are covered by the word why. What caused the chair to break/why did the chair break? (Почему) For what purpose did you break the chair/why did you break the chair? (Зачем)


You have my thanks, very kind sir.


So basically Почему is like "how come it happened?" or "what caused it to happen?" while Зачем is more like "what caused it to happen?" or "what is the reason this is happening". Is this correct?


Basically you are right
“Почему” is like regular “Why”:
- Why did you do that?

“Зачем” is more like “What for”:
- Why (what for) do you need two of them?


Почему? Потому что.. Why? Because... Зачем? Чтобы.. For what reason? In order to.. Do your homework!
Почему? Because ( потому что) I said so. Зачем? Чтобы (in order that, so that) you will learn ...


We can see зачем being derived from two russian words: за - for, and чем - what (in the instrumental case). My Russian teacher told me that the logical response to зачем is чтобы followed by a verb describing the purpose of your action. 'For what? To do this.'


За and чем! That makes perfect sense! Why you don't have more lingots for this explanation is beyond me. Thank you.


I really like this because чтобы means in order to. So почему can be followed by потому что, because. Right?


Does the word чтобы put the verb in an infinitive case or perfective case?


That is with Dutch too, we have a strictly difference between: hoezo (wieso) and waarom (warum)


There is a subtle difference in French too although it is not stressed in the common language :

  • pour quoi : pour quoi prends-tu cet outil ? (for which purpose do you take this tool ?). Pour réparer le sèche-cheveux (to fix the hairdryer)
  • pourquoi : pourquoi prend tu cet outil ? (why do you take this tool ?). Parce que le sèche-cheveux est cassé (because the hairdryer is broken)


merci beaucoup, ça m'aide énormément, tu peux pas savoir


Oh là là, i didn't know one can write 'pour quoi' apart


The conjunctions are even more to the point: 'parceque' = because (Dutch 'omdat', points to the past), and 'afin que' = so that (Dutch 'opdat', points to the future)


I don't agree with your comment. I have never read, anywhere in modern french or in French literature pourquoi written "pour quoi".

In french, you can use pourquoi in one word in any situation. Some synonyms exist to add more precision to the question, such as "pour quelle raison" or "dans quel but" but "pour quoi" does not add any subtlety to the meaning of pourquoi. It even reads like rather poorly.


I happen to have a French friend visiting me at the moment. I am doing my duolingo lesson while she is working on a lesson plan for a class she is teaching. I showed her this conversation. She said absolutely French people say "pour quoi" most commonly in the phrase, "pour quoi faire." She wasn't crazy about the example sentences Houbinou offered, but she confirmed pour quoi does exist in modern French. I personally thank Houbinou, because my French is decent--I maxed out Duolingo's offerings in French--but I never before noticed the existence of pour quoi as a separate entity from pourquoi.


"Pour quoi" does exist, but it is true that "pourquoi" will be the correct choice in most cases. Consider "Pour quoi faire?" -> basically "what's the objective?". "Pourquoi faire?" would be grammatically incorrect, something like saying "Why do?" in English. If you want to say "what's the reason why you're doing this" you could say "pour quoi faire", or "pourquoi fais-tu cela?". I admit the difference is subtle and sometimes missed even by native French speakers, but it is there. For an English speaker, I guess the easiest way to understand the difference would be: "Pour quoi" = For what (reason) "Pourquoi" = why Most of the time you will use "why" instead of "for what reason"


Interesting, because wieso and warum are the exactly same thing in German.


Exactly, thanks for your explanations.


this was very spot on, nice lengual referencing.


Wow it's exactly like "neden/niye" in Turkish


Thanks, this really helped. Also, to add on, if one had said почему она готовит? instead of зачем, it would be more of 'Why did she cook' or 'Why is she cooking', whereas "Зачем она готовит?" would be more of a 'Why does she cook'. The latter is asking of the purpose of an action in the Present Simple tense in English, when the action isn't happening at the moment.


Почему - это причина, т.е. дает ответ на вопрос "по какой причине". Зачем - это цель, т.е. ответ на вопрос "для достижения какой цели".
Почему ты ел ? Был голоден. Зачем ты ел? Чтобы восполнить запас энергии, утолить голод. ps: I'll try to explain it in english in next topic


Well, I didn't understand it, but certainly who knows Russian, will. Wait a minute. The one who knows Russian, doesn't need to know this...


I can read but not write, excuse me. I'll try. "Почему" - is a cause, "Зачем" - is an aim.


Sorry, I don't see the difference. Could you give some examples where there is a difference?


Почему ты ел ? Был голоден.

Why do you eat? Because I am angry.

Зачем ты ел? Чтобы восстановать запас энергии.

Why do you eat for? To restore the energy.


From reading, I would summarise as: зачем = "For what purpose" почему = "For what reason" Motivation vs cause.

So, if the light turned off, you would use почему to determine for what reason the light went off (e.g. the power went out, someone hit the lightswitch, the bulb ran out). But if you knew your friend turned the light off, you would ask зачем, because you want to know his reasoning.

You would usually only ask зачем of a sentient creature, because only they have a purpose. However, you could use зачем to a non-sentient creature, e.g. if I made a machine that falls over every time you stand it up, or a program that deletes itself, you might ask зачем.

If you were asking about the behaviour of natural phenomena, you would use почему. I think that's all very easily understandable, but the real nuance is knowing when to ask a sentient being почему.

e.g. "Why are you at the bottom of this hill". If they're lying on the ground, probably почему- "because I fell" - they aren't there because they meant to get there. If they're digging at the bottom of the hill though you'd ask, "Зачем", because they're maybe an archeologist, or hiding something - they got there with purpose.


If anyone is wondering, зачем is a compound work made from the preposition за, which in this case means ‘at’ or ‘while’, and чем, which means ‘with what’ (the instrumental form of что).


Can the English be translated as "What is she cooking for?" Because зачем is defined commonly as "what for"? (Duolingo asked me - for thr first time - to translate the Russian into English...)


That English sentence seems correct to me, but very uncommon as opposed to simply "why is she cooking".

These kinds of "what for" constructions are less common in English I think, and in many cases people would simply use "why" where Russian uses "зачем".


does почему and зачем work as "porqué?" and "para qué?" in spanish?


Yes. Another commenter up the thread made that very comparison.


"Why does she cook?" sounds like a weird question to do, but "why is she cooking?" Sounds a plausible question... Interesting how many times we need further context to know the exact meaning of a sentence...


Because she's supposed to be in the kitchen


There are many comments explaining the meaning of зачем, so I won't go over that here, but my issue with this translation is the English word "cook" instead of "cooking", which sounds more accurate for зачем (if it was почему it could be fine). Could a native speaker confirm this or explain further if my intuition is wrong?


Почему и зачем - could be possible to differentiate depending on time and concrete reality. Почему-the answers are in real causes in real time

Зачем-answers are outside of "concrete" reality..

I am not sure..just thinking


Почему is basically "What caused you to do this?"
Зачем is "What is your end goal?"


Could "Зачем она готовит? " also mean "What is she preparing for?"? Or do you have to use the reflexive verb "готовится" for that?


Gotovit' is a transitive verb, so that would be that she's preparing something else. If you use the reflexive version then yeah it would mean she's preparing herself.


What for she cooks? It's wrong? If so I am asking of advice


It sounds unnatural, the word order is weird. You would say, What is she cooking for? That was my answer, and duolingo said it was right. However as an American, duolingo's alternate answer of "Why does she cook" is pretty bad in my opinion, that's not natural at all.


"Why does she cook?" sounds normal to me.


In what context would you ever hear that by itself, and have it be a normal thing to say? Instead of something like "Why is she cooking?" for example.


For the same reason you'd ask why anyone does anything ever. Perhaps cooking is the person's passion and you want to know why she is so interested in cooking. "Why is she cooking" emphasizes the immediacy of her action in the predent, while "why does she cook?" asks for her general motivation for cooking in general.


To each their own, I would never ever say "Why does she cook" by itself, without any more information.

Using your example, I would say.. "Why does she enjoy cooking so much?" "Why does she love to cook so much" "Why is she so passionate about cooking?" "Why does she love cooking so much?" "Why does she love to cook so much?"


Amplifying information always aids in the communication process, but both "Why is she cooking?" and "Why does she cook?" make sense grammatically and are valid ways of translating the idea posed in the Russian sentence here.


The Russian and English grammar look fine to me. My issue is that why to you cook is never going to be said because people cook so they can eat. Why do you eat. Why do you live why do you see. Not really reasonable questions.


I agree. Why does she cook sounds like the reason for asking is that shes such a terrible cook, its a useless endeavor!


Why does she cook is an accurate sentence, but sounds inaccurate for зачем, because it means why does she cook in general, and there isnt a good answer to that.(because shes crazy, because. Well, most answers involve for what reason. WHY IS SHE COOKING? because her kids want dinner, because shes hungry.because she likes to cooking. Why would anyone ask why does someone cook? It's as bad as asking why does the mom love her children?


what is wrong with : "what is she preparing for" - which could also be for some test


That would be "К чему она готовится?".


After reading all the comments I have come to the conclusion that зачем means why do/does and почему means why are/is


It's more about intent vs. external force. For example: "Why do apples fall to the ground?" in Russian would be "Почему яблоки падают на землю?". We don't use "зачем" because that would imply that apples do that intentionally (and are probably sentient). On the other hand "Why is she here?" can be translated as "Зачем она здесь?" if we are wondering what is her purpose for being here. "Почему она здесь?" would be more about "how did it happen that she's here?", though admittedly the difference between these two is almost negligible.


Почему = what's the reason? Зачем = what is it for?

Is this correct?


@Kundoo Your explanation makes a lot of sense. But now I wonder if one or the other is used in a generic sense? For example, if I see a man running down the street, I do not know if he's running for a purpose (maybe he's late for work) or he's running because of something (a dog is chasing him). If I asked him why he was running, which would I use to cover both possibilities?


That depends on what you are really interested in. If you are assuming he has a purpose, and you want to know it, you'd ask "зачем?". "Почему?" is arguably more neutral and doesn't make assumptions, thus giving more freedom in an answer, but in some contexts it can imply a lack of agency in one's actions.

In the context of "why is he running?" both "почему?" and "зачем?" can be used, because the actions of a sentient being usually have both a reason and a purpose. "He is late for work" is a reason, "to get to the workplace in time" - is a purpose. "A dog is chasing him" is a reason, "to run away from the dog" is a purpose. So it really boils down to what you want to know.


(if anyone speaks Polish)

зачем? - po co? почему? - dlaczego/czemu?


Почему она готовит? And no зачем....is very confused...


Why not "why is she cooking?"


Is this like Por qué and Para qué in Spanish?


Tell me, why does she cook!? First one to talk gets to stay aboard my aircraft...


After 10 years of trying to figure out what and why with this language, I am finally being schooled ! Thank you for these explanations!!!!


Why can I hear two 'n's' она не or он не


Why does the sun set at night?


Потому что она хочет ест


Зачем она готовит? = What's she cooking for?


Она готовит потому что она хочет ест


@protoboy - Close!

Она готовит потому, что она хочет есть.


What is the difference between зачем and потиму ?


''Why does she cook?'' Old habbits from the USSR


Wtf? I literally typed the right answer and it said it was wrong


What is the difference between' почему' and 'зачем'?


“ What for is she cooking?” - accepted


From the comments I see that no one really knows exactly what this sentence is supposed to mean.


What is she cooking for, why does she cook, she cooks every day, or she cooks fish well, she will cook,, she did cook. Dont ask me why! What was the whole sentence as you wrote it and got typo?


Way too hard to hear is it Анна or она...


I have been taught by a native speaker that зачем is 'what for?' And почему is 'why?' Why is this difference not accepted by Duolingo?


Actually it is.

Learn Russian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.