2

На что я не люблю Артёма, но сейчас мне бы пригодилась его помощь.

It would seem this part roughly means "I can't stand him", but how does it get to have this meaning? The phrase "я не люблю Артёма" obviously means "I don't like him", but what is the function of "На что"?

6

Actually "I can't stand him" is actually я не выношу его or я не переношу его or я на дух его не могу терпеть - it's different (more passionate, if you will) than "I don't like him".

As of на что the closes English equivalent would be as much as, so the phrase altogether can be translated something like:

As much as I don't like Artyom I'd appreciate his help.

You don't need to understand the logic behind на что in this meaning - it's just a phrase one should remember and understand when it used and when it doesn't.

6
  • Very interesting. Regarding a logical explanation of its meaning... How does a native speaker (as a kid) go about wrapping their head around the logic of "на что" conveying the idea of "even though"? Jul 11 '18 at 13:28
  • Does it have something to do with "на что бы я ни + some verb"? Jul 11 '18 at 13:29
  • Or can I see it as a rhetorical question: "I don't like Artyom -- What for {На что}? -- For anything in the world -- but still his help would be appreciated." Jul 11 '18 at 13:57
  • That's an oldish expression anyway (e.g., I would expect to see it used a lot in the 19th c. literature), and explaining it with modern exprssions won't work, probably.
    – yury10578
    Jul 11 '18 at 14:23
  • 3
    @Alone-zee "На что" in this case is equivalent to "на сколько". Perhaps in some point in time что and сколько were interchangeable. Then the phrase got frozen. So, the logic is that "you all know how much I don't like him, but..."
    – AlexVB
    Jul 11 '18 at 16:42

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.