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 '16 at 19:00
  • @БаянКупи-ка: Thank you very much for your answer - I have no idea what to make of it.
    – CocoPop
    Oct 5 '16 at 19:15
  • these are just synonyms to куда мне? Oct 5 '16 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 '16 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 '16 at 7:39

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 can I work?!

Куда же мне петь! Голоса нет.
How can I 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 the university. I hope to enter the trade school.


Куда with dative (куда мне, куда тебе, куда им) is used to sceptically express doubts. In your example it can be translated as "(I think) I am not able to do it, I would be happy to be admitted to professional college".


Куда a particle, colloquial, used with pronouns in the Dative (куда мне, куда ему, куда нам, etc.) expresses doubt, scepticism

куда тебе до него! you will never be able to do it like him! куда мне, мне б в училище поступить.--I am not so clever(I can't do it), I would be happy to enter a vocational school. Куда мне in general means that my level is not very high to get,to reach something. Or I am not able due to circumstances to do something.

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