Wonder, words “Что” russian.


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Words “Что”, is one of Russian’s wonder…  WORDS.

It has a number of meanings and plays several grammatical roles.

And it can be combined with a variety of other one-syllable words – and then pronounced in various intonations – to express just about every emotion known to human beings.

Think of it as the Meryl Streep of the Russian language.
As everyone recalls from first-year Russian class, что can mean “what” when standing alone or in the first full sentence we foreigners learned:

Что это? (What’s that?)

And it’s a conjunction in about the third sentence we learned: Я думаю, что понимаю (I think that I understand).

In colloquial speech, что can play the role of который (that or which), что-нибудь (anything) or почему (why).

Возьми сумку, что лежит на комоде (Grab the bag that’s on the dresser). Что ты стоишь? (Why are you just standing there?)

Если что случится, позвони (Call me if anything happens). This is a handy grammatical construction. When you toddle from your friends’ place at 3 a.m. after drinking them out of house and home – and especially when you have a dim memory of a lascivious interlude in the kitchen – you can say:

Извини, если что (Sorry if I did anything to offend; literally, sorry if anything).
Once you master these basics, you can start mixing and matching with other little words, for example, the particle же (or ж).

Что ж, often preceded by ну (well), can be the verbal equivalent of a semicolon: All’s well; let’s move on. When you hand over a pile of documents to the traffic cop who’s stopped you, he’ll study them for a moment and then say:

Ну что ж. Всё в порядке (Well, then, everything’s in order). In other contexts, it can be a verbal sigh. When you find out that you haven’t gotten the promotion you were expecting, you can say:

Ну что ж. Всё ещё впереди. (Oh, well. I’ve got my whole life ahead of me.)

But if you add the word и to the phrasal mix, the whole meaning changes. Ну и что is a question you spit out in a fit of righteous indignation or as a challenge.

Да, я зашёл в бар по дороге домой. Ну и что? (Yes, I stopped in a bar on the way home. What of it?)

Another handy combination of little words is что к чему (what’s what, literally, what to what). Он работает в нашем отделе всего три недели и ещё не знает, что к чему (He’s only been working in our department for three weeks and still doesn’t know what’s what).

And then there’s my favorite: что вы (literally, what you), a multipurpose exclamation. It can be a generic expression of surprise or fright:

Сегодня я уволился. – Да что вы?! (Today, I quit my job. — You did what!?) Or it can mean “No, not at all”: Вы давно здесь живёте? – Что вы! Я только что въехал в эту квартиру. (Have you lived here long? — Not at all. I just moved into the apartment.)

In another context, it can be a polite, if coquettish, reply to a compliment or favor. Как вы сегодня хорошо выглядите! – Что вы! Я же совсем не выспалась. (You look great today! — My heavens, no! I didn’t get much sleep last night.)

And it can also be also used to console or commiserate: Жаль, что меня не приняли на работу. – Что вы! Вы ищете работу только одну неделю. (Too bad I didn’t get hired. – Don’t let it get to you! You’ve only been job-hunting for a week.)

Ну что ж. Дальше буду искать. (Oh, well. I’ll keep looking.)


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