I saw the following exchange:

Будешь поступать в институт? - Куда мне, мне б в училище поступить".

Since there's no question mark, I'm led to believe that куда мне is rhetorical here, and quite possibly an idiom. (Also, I admit, I don't really know what the second sentence means).

  • also (да) куда там?, (да) где уж (там)?, (да) где (уж) (там) мне/нам/ему/тебе etc? Oct 5, 2016 at 19:00
  • @БаянКупи-ка: Thank you very much for your answer - I have no idea what to make of it.
    – CocoPop
    Oct 5, 2016 at 19:15
  • these are just synonyms to куда мне? Oct 5, 2016 at 20:20
  • Oh! Thank you very much. I thought you were asking me something :) So these can be used in the same way?
    – CocoPop
    Oct 5, 2016 at 22:08
  • yep, they certainly can.... also (да) какой там? only that this denotes impossibility/skepticism about chances due to unfavorable circumstances rather than incapability Oct 6, 2016 at 7:39

4 Answers 4


Куда as a particle may ironically express a negation, doubt, or impossibility.

It may be translated as a rhetorical question:

Болею уже несколько дней: куда там работать!
I've been sick for several days. How am I supposed to work?!

Куда же мне петь! Голоса нет.
How am I supposed to sing? I have no voice!


You are right, куда мне (and also куда ему, куда им etc) is an idiom that means:

I'm not good / smart / skilled enough.

So the second sentence could be translated as:

I'm not smart enough for university — I hope to get into a trade school.


Куда with the dative (куда мне, куда тебе, куда им) is used to skeptically express doubt. In your example, it can be translated as "(I don't think) I'm able to do it — I'd be happy just to be admitted into a vocational school."


Куда is a particle, colloquial, used with pronouns in the Dative (куда мне, куда ему, куда нам, etc.) to express doubt, skepticism

куда тебе до него! you'll never be able to do it like him! куда мне, мне б в училище поступить.— I'm not so smart (I can't do it) — I'd be happy just to get into a vocational school. Куда мне in general means that my skillset/knowledge isn't high enough to get or to reach something. Or I can't do something due to certain circumstances.

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