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  5. У неё что, нет масла?


У неё что, нет масла?

So, taking a gander at the second to-Russian course on Duolingo, and this sentence pops up.

I'm finding it a bit of a headscratcher. What does it mean? And how does it mean that?

February 13, 2018



Hi! Yes, like Neon_Iceberg said, it translates to something like "She's like what, she has no oil??" And the что is used to stress that the speaker finds that very hard to believe. Here are another couple of examples:

Он что, кошку никогда не видел? He's never seen a cat or what??

Ты что, не знаешь кто такая Мадонна? What, you don't even know who Madonna is??

The что is usually attached to the person (less often the object) that did the action or is in the state that surprised us. I hope this helps!


The translation is "does she have no oil?". This construction with the word "что" is used for expression of bewilderment or wonder.


What! Does she have no oil?


= Что? У неё нет масла?


У неё что, нет масла? - Does she have no butter?

Масло - butter ;P

Sometimes may refer to "oil for cooking", there are also different words for different kinds of oil. Example: petrol - бензин

что - "whether or not" is probably the closest to an accurate translation, it's for "yes or no" (does or does not, is or isn't) etc. type of questions

Russian: что, Polish: czy, Esperanto: Ĉu, Mandarin: 是不是

That sentence could also be:

Что у неё нет масла? - plain question, without emphasizing that the speaker "finds it hard to believe" (MariyanaVo's explanation about it is very good!) :)


I think the best way to render this question in English is this: “Are you kidding? One might think she has no oil/butter.” Or “Are you trying to tell me she has no oil/butter?”

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