I just wrote in an IM:

Вот бы и мне туда! Неужели когда-нибудь простые люди тоже смогут летать на Луну?

Here I'm entertaining the possibility of space travel in a rather hopeful tone: "I wonder if the day will come when we ...". But then, I wondered how the use of "разве" would have compared. Does "разве", on the other hand, impart a rather negative, sceptical flavour to my remark: "Will the day ever come when we ..."?

{vs}: Вот бы и мне туда! Но серьезно, разве когда-нибудь простые люди тоже смогут летать на Луну?

[ a relevant post ]


1 Answer 1


You're right and your remark shows deep understanding of these constructs.

Неужели implies you've accepted the fact you were skeptical of but still express your surprise, разве means you have not accepted it yet and are looking for additional confirmation.

— Он придёт с женой. — Неужели он женился? // "He will come with his wife". "He's married? I'm surprised!"

— Он придёт с женой. — Разве он женился? // "He will come with his wife". "I was not aware he was married, is he?"

Неужели is more often than not a rhetorical question, разве more often than not requires an actual answer.

  • Upping this, the subtle difference is there, but frankly, there's no difference in real use of these two.
    – yury10578
    Commented Jun 27, 2018 at 20:38
  • 1
    @Alone-zee: this is a neutral question ("I wonder if...") and does not convey the element of surprise. Both неужели and разве assume you did not really believe in Moon flights before.
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 9:20
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    Use "мне вот интересно" as you would when "speaking of which; if you mention that" would be implied.
    – yury10578
    Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 11:36
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    @Alone-zee that phrase lacks a verb (well, maybe it was to be there in the omitted part, just that it is not there yet. I perceive it, when expeanded, to be kind of "Мне вот интересно, можно ли когда-нибудь [по]лететь на Луну" ), so sounds a bit weird. I feel more idiomatic would be "Интересно, можно ли БУДЕТ когда-нибудь ..." or "Интересно, УДАСТСЯ ли когда-нибудь ..." or "Интересно, СМОЖЕМ ли МЫ когда-нибудь ..." instead. The two latter variants additionally express your attitude to the prospect: you explicitly hope for that with to eventually be granted.
    – Arioch
    Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 12:00
  • 1
    @alonezee: those are vulgarisms and нешто has additional meaning of "if only", but otherwise they mean the same
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Jul 1, 2018 at 13:04

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