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What is the difference between Чего тебе нужно? and Что тебе нужно?

What is the difference between Чего тебе нужно? and Что тебе нужно?

I have seen these both translated as What do you want? Do they mean the same thing?

February 24, 2018



They mean the same thing. "Что тебе нужно?" is more proper, "Чего тебе нужно?" is technically incorrect, but people say it anyway.


I think it is somewhat related to the "чая vs. чаю"

It is possible to say "Мне нужно [немного] чая" or "...чаю", and thus the question "Чего тебе нужно?" is enabled as also correct.

"Что" is the conventional accusative case, "Чего" is that partitive / genitive thing.


I thought that I need tea would be мне нужен чай, so the answer is usually in the nominative with нужен because чай is masculine and the english subject put into dative in Russian. But it does make sense to me that someone might answer with the partative/genitive, so I guess you just sort of anticipate that by making the question word genitive as well?


The the answer doesn't have to match the question in this regard.

Compared with "что", asking "чего" is much less formal.

Anyway, it is possible to ask in accusative or partative/genitive depending on the personal preference in a given situation, and it is perfectly fine to answer with accusative or partative/genitive according to what's actually needed regardless of how the question was made.


It is possible to use чего when you ask about something in the genitive case (interrogative pronouns кого, чего). ‘’Чего тебе надобно старче?’’ - спросила его золотая рыбка. (Пушкин) ‘’Чего ты ждёшь?’’ - ‘’Чуда’’.


I think first one is "What do you need it for?" and second one is usual "What do you want?"


Nope, both are "What do you want?", and they are pretty much (if not entirely) interchangeable.

"What do you need it for?" would be "Для чего" or "Зачем?"


(Russian native) "Что (чего) тебе нужно (надо)?" and "Что (чего) надо?" means "What do you need?", but it's not a very polite to say this. A little more polite to say (but not very either) "Что Вам нужно?". "Что Вы желаете?" (What do you wish?) is the most polite, but you won't hear this often, because Russian bureaucrats and salespeople in the stores are pretty rude (at least it was the case in the old Soviet Union) :)

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