Are there any exceptions when one can forgo the usage of "чтобы"?

Я поехал в москву́ посмотре́ть кремль.

Я поехал в москву́,чтобы посмотре́ть кремль.

Я пошёл в магази́н купи́ть хле́ба́.

Я пошёл в магази́н, чтобы купи́ть хле́ба́.

Я поехал на рабо́ту забра́ть инструме́нты.

Я поехал на рабо́ту, чтобы забра́ть инструме́нты.


3 Answers 3


In all examples above it's completely ok to omit "чтобы". Keep in mind though that this is not always the case. Actually, in the majority of cases it is the other way around.

You can not do it in phrases like:

  1. Чтобы забрать инструменты, я поехал на работу
  2. Нужны годы, чтобы стать настоящим мастером своего дело.
  3. Я много тренируюсь, чтобы победить на марафоне.

What's the difference? Well, speaking of first example - you can never omit чтобы when чтобы-part оf the complex sentence comes first.

And actually phrases like пойти сделать что-нибудь/поехать сделать что-нибудь which are roughly equivalent for to go to do something are sort of something you can think of as of complex verb construction which is self-sufficient per se.

So the rule of thumb is that if you can take two verbs that are separated by чтобы and will manage to get a viable construct which indicates intention to do something, than you can omit чтобы.


  • собраться сделать что-нибудь
  • задумать сделать что-нибудь
  • намереваться сделать что-нибудь


  • When чтобы is placed first, it seems much more obvious to me,like meaning,"in order to do....,, " Oct 10, 2016 at 15:30
  • @Штефан yes, this is pretty much like "in order to"
    – shabunc
    Oct 10, 2016 at 15:31

It seems that for omitting "чтобы" both parts of the sentence should at least have the same subject. If the subjects are different, you can't. For example, the following sentences will totally lose sense without "чтобы":

  • Он позвонил ей и предупредил, что придет поздно, чтобы она не волновалась.

  • Он закрыл дверь на два замка, чтобы воры не забрались в дом.

  • Thank you for your help. I never know when to use "что" or "чтобы" with verbs aside from a few obvious ones, like хотеть + чтобы Oct 10, 2016 at 15:26
  • 1
    @Штефан, I think, shabunc's answer can be very helpful. But when in doubt, just don't omit any words.
    – Lara
    Oct 10, 2016 at 15:30

My feeling is that чтобы expresses intention but doesn't give any indication of whether the intended action was successful or was performed

the phrases without чтобы have a connotation that the intention was fulfilled

Я пошёл в магази́н купи́ть хле́ба́

and in the end i did buy it

Я пошёл в магази́н, чтобы купи́ть хле́ба́

that was my intention, whether i bought it or not is beside the point

in the first example пошёл plays a part of a modal verb and so is secondary to the purport of the sentence, that's perhaps why купить gets the emphasis - my clumsy way of making sense of it

  • 1
    Thanks again! I just assumed that it was a colloquialism,like omitting "that" in English sentences when used as a subordinating conjunction as well as before and after bridge verbs and non-bridge verbs. Oct 10, 2016 at 15:20
  • maybe you're right if there's an explicit rule in Russian dissuading from using чтобы in such sentences, to me both phrases are equal in their aptitude Oct 10, 2016 at 15:27

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