Can someone elaborate on why "Tim, what fish is that?" Is incorrect? ^^ thank you.
That wouldn't be correct in standard English, since you would normally say 'what kind of' or 'what type of' .
Perhaps someone can explain this sentence? My understanding is that за usually means "for". So is "что это за" simply a common idiom meaning "what kind of ... is this"?
Like "потому что" meaning "because" (porque), while потому by itself is "therefore" (por lo tanto). They are related, but the combination works quite differently like a whole new expression.
Actually, it kind of makes sense, in this case; "what is this for a fish" gets across, somewhat obliquely, the same idea if you ask me.
[ что это за ] ‧ is a fixed phrase used as a routine inquiry, rhetorical question and exclamatory expression. The phrase meanings are broader than the, [ кака́я како́й како́е каки́е ] [ what ] [ what kind of ] inquiry.
что это за ‧ ‧ Such/What a, Who is, What sort, What is up/going-on with, Who/What the heck, What is/are the/those/these ‧ ‧ www.babla.ru/русский-английский/что-это-за ‧ ‧ context.reverso.net/translation/russian-english/что+это+за ‧ ‧
‧ что это за книга ‧ what a book it is ‧ ru.wikisource.org/wiki/Братья_Карамазовы_(Достоевский)/Книга_шестая/II ‧ www.klassika.ru/read.html?proza/dostoevskij/karams.txt&page=70 ‧ books.google.com/books?isbn=163537085X ‧
‧ Мадемуазель, что это за книга? ‧ Miss, are you sure this is the same notebook? ‧ Сериал Отряды-Тигров 1974-1983 ‧ Tiger Brigades ‧ 1974-1983 ‧ vvord.ru/Otryadyi-tigrov-7.html ‧ vvord.ru/tekst-filma/Otryadyi-tigrov/ ‧ www.film.ru/movies/otryady-tigrov
While not strictly wrong, it's an unnatural sentence structure. "What kind of fish is this" and "what kind is this fish" are the only two I can think of offhand that "should" work, and pardon the expression, but even the second is a bit fishy...
I've heard it. I think that's perfectly acceptable. It's uncommon, but not incorrect.
My answer of Tim, what kind of a fish is this? was rejected. Both should be correct but my answer is more likely in the USA. The meaning is slightly different. If you are holding a fish you just caught my question would be used 99% of the time. If there is a cooked fish on your plate, the given question is better.
Since no one answered so far, I looked it up myself and it turns out: although за usually requires prepositional case or accusative, in this context (что это за ...) it is in fact followed by nominative. Czech and Slovak require accusative for this construction, but in Polish it is the same as in Russian and they also have nominative there. (https://russian.stackexchange.com/questions/7804/nominative-after-%D1%87%D1%82%D0%BE-%D0%B7%D0%B0)