I was taught that the translation of "what" is что, but recently I noticed that people use чего in the same meaning of "what?". Is that useage correct or slang or what is it?

n.b. I don't know a language that has more than one translation to "what".


2 Answers 2


чего is colloquial and is only used in spoken form. It is not synonymous with что, though it could be used colloquially to convey some context appropriate emotion. For instance:

Ты знал что в английском языке больше миллиона слов? 
Did you know that the English language has more than a million words?

To convey surprise.

С января стоимость проезда в метро увеличится в два раза.
Starting in January the cost of riding metro will double.

To convey disgust or displeasure.
  • 1
    Чего?! - To convey surprise. - this is not a separate example, it is actually the very same thing. It is just a shortened form of "Чего/что ты сказал/говоришь?!"
    – Arioch
    Commented May 16, 2018 at 9:54

"Что" is inflected in Russian. "Чего" is one of its forms. Per grammar rules it should be used only in special circumstances.

However! Indeed, colloquially "Чего" might be used instead of "Что". This use however, is usually assumed to be a sign of unsophisticated person and/or a sign of surprise/displeasure/lack of understanding.

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