Very simply, what is the difference between the phrases 'вот оно что' or 'вон оно что?'

  • 2
    Very simply, no difference – Quassnoi Sep 22 '15 at 4:43
  • It means the same thing....... – Dan Sep 24 '15 at 16:07

No real difference. You may think it like This is it vs That's it.

"Вот" is a "pointer"-word for any object near to the speaker. "Вон" is its counterpart for any distant object. (BTW. There are several other meanings insignificant for this topic, e.g. Вон! = Get out!).

That is Вот is a Here-pointer as in Here you are, and Вон is a There-pointer as in There you are (but note that here-location as in "You are here" would become здесь in Russian, and "You are there" will be там).

Yet in this particular case the whole expression is rather another way of saying: "Oh, I see". So both "Вот оно что" and "Вон оно что" have absolutely same meaning.

Still there's one more point to note. The dictionaries mark the word "Вон" as "colloquial". My guess, this is due to the "point-with-a-finger" effect: saying "вон" often implies pointing with a finger, which is improper.

  • This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. – Artemix Sep 22 '15 at 8:30
  • @Artemix: You are wrong. This answer clearly shows all the tiny difference between these two phrases and states that this difference is insignificant. I could only suggest to make the answer more elaborate. – Paul Sep 22 '15 at 10:32

Both are colloquial expressions of understanding something told by someone else. While "вот оно что" из emotionally neutral, "вон оно что" carries a bit of surprise or even sympathy for the other party in the conversation. The latter version is unlikely to be used in formal speech.

P.S. Examples of formal and personal usage, where proper choice is preferable.

(business negotiations)

- Извините за задержку с платежом, забастовка банковских служащих продлится ещё два дня.

- Вот оно что. Теперь понятно, давайте обсудим ситуацию.

(informal situation)

- Жена не смогла поехать (к вам в гости) вместе со мной, она приболела.

- Вон оно что... Ну передавайте ей привет, пусть поправляется.

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