"Зачем она готовит?"

Translation:Why does she cook?

November 22, 2015



I guess she's hungry...

November 22, 2015


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

November 26, 2015


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.)

December 2, 2015


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)

April 8, 2019


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

March 1, 2016


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

March 28, 2018


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)
July 12, 2018


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

July 19, 2018


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)

August 18, 2018


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

September 9, 2018


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.

January 28, 2019


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.'

May 8, 2019


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

July 22, 2019


Exactly, thanks for your explanations.

December 2, 2015


this was very spot on, nice lengual referencing.

February 20, 2018


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

August 5, 2018


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

November 29, 2015


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...

November 29, 2015


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

November 30, 2015


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

December 1, 2015


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.

December 1, 2015


So "Зачем" is because, the other is "Why".

Then why this is accepted: "Зачем она готовит?" Translation: Why does she cook?

December 1, 2015


Spanish comparison:

"Почему" - ¿Por qué? (¿Cuál es la causa?)

"Зачем" - ¿Para qué? (¿Cuál es el propósito?)

January 9, 2016


Yup, just like Yuri-Isaenko said above. You could imagine the sentence as "why(for what purpose) does she cook".

December 28, 2015


Because in english "why" is both : "почему" and "зачем". How else you will say "зачем" ?

December 1, 2015


I'm still working on this myself, but one common use of pochimu is the kids' Why? (In response to things like "Eat all of your kasha" or "Do pages 3~4 in the workbook for homework"). I here kids say this a lot.

March 19, 2018


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.

October 20, 2017


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).

August 5, 2016


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...)

January 20, 2016


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".

January 26, 2016


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

November 6, 2017


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

September 1, 2017


That would be "К чему она готовится?".

September 1, 2017


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

Is this correct?

May 16, 2018


@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?

June 22, 2018


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.

June 22, 2018


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

December 11, 2016


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

January 13, 2017


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

December 20, 2016


Го-то́-вить-ся ‧ To ready, to prepare, to put in a stand-by mode state of readiness or preparedness directed to self or selves reflexively; oneself, yourself, itself / his & herself, ourselves, yourselves or themselves for something or the onset of something ‧ ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/готовиться

При-го-то́-вить-ся ‧ сделать приготовления, ‧ To make preparations ( for self / selves ) | To ready or prepare self / selves for something - { i.e., prepare or get ready for an airplane take-off} ) ‧ ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/приготовиться

При-го-тов-ле́-ни·е ‧ Preparation, Arrangement ‧ ‧ ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/приготовление

Пожалуйста, приготовьтесь ‧ ‧ Please Stand By ‧ ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Пожалуйста,_приготовьтесь ‧ ‧ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Please_Stand_By

Get set, Get ready, Make ready, Prepare to, Be prepared, Stand by, Brace self/ selves, ‧ context.reverso.net/translation/russian-english/приготовьтесь

Го́-тов ‧ Ready, Prepared, Willing, Set, ‧ context.reverso.net/translation/russian-english/готов

Го-то́-вый ‧ Ready, Prepared, Willing, Finished ‧ ‧ context.reverso.net/translation/russian-english/готовый

December 28, 2018


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.

January 13, 2017


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

February 8, 2017


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.

February 12, 2017


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

February 12, 2017


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.

February 12, 2017


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.

February 12, 2017


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.

February 12, 2017


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?"

February 12, 2017


"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...

February 17, 2017


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

September 15, 2017


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.

September 15, 2017



September 15, 2017


(if anyone speaks Polish)

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

July 25, 2018


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

August 30, 2018


Why not "why is she cooking?"

September 30, 2018


Is this like Por qué and Para qué in Spanish?

June 8, 2019


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

July 12, 2019


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

August 7, 2019


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

September 6, 2019


Because she's supposed to be in the kitchen

February 21, 2018


Well, why don't you MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS!?

September 28, 2016
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