What is the meaning of "что ты" when person uses it during conversation like this:
Это твой папа?
Нет! что ты! Это мой дядя.
Does it mean What are you saying? or You're saying the wrong thing!?

And another question: can I use it with "Вы" in a formal situation?
like: Это ваш папа?
Нет! что вы! Это мой дядя.
And will it not be rude?

5 Answers 5


"Что ты" (or "что вы") means "you're wrong" or "your suggestion is over the top".

Saying this is definitely not rude. Whether it's actually polite depends on the context. For an innocent mistake, it's probably not very polite. For a guess that was meant as a compliment, "что вы" is perfectly fine.

Ex.: "Это Вы сами сочинили?" - "Что Вы!" ("You composed that yourself?" - "Of course not!")


Это твой папа?

Нет! что ты! Это мой дядя.

I would say that "что ты/вы" is a colloquial version of "you're mistaken". Both ты and вы can be used. It sounds normal to me.

  1. It means the person is wrong.

  2. Yes you can. It's not rude, but in my opinion, it's not particularly polite either to the extent that it's impolite to point out strangers' mistakes. But it's acceptable.

  • 1
    it's not polite to point out their mistakes to strangers - So, taking the dialog above - when a strangers think your uncle is your father, it's not polite to correct them? Personally I see nothing impolite in "- Скажите, эта морковка по 30? - Нет, ну что вы! Всего по 15." Mar 8, 2019 at 19:28
  • you misread what i'd written, i think it's not particularly polite (which still doesn't amount to IMpolite) to point out mistakes to strangers, it's enough to share factual information without stressing the fact of a mistake, especially when it's inconsequential... it's because when you make the fact of the error known it may be construed to mean "are you blind/deaf?" or "are you an idiot?" which are spelled out in rude style of speech, while polite speech is all about tact and avoidance of even a semblance of offensive statements as much as possible Mar 8, 2019 at 19:50
  • I'd argue things like "Что вы" or "Нет, конечно" stress the mistake in a negative sense. Simultaneously it may also mean "You're mistaken, and your question in fact could offend me, but no, I'm not offended as it's ridiculous to assume you asked your (whatever silly) question w/o a reason and with no good intentions". After all, since "что вы" usually goes as a response to a question, the very fact of the question implies the asking person is ready or even wants to be corrected. And personally I would be offended more by Robot-like-sterile-SJW-friendly binary compressed answer. Mar 8, 2019 at 21:56
  • that's right, the very fact of asking a question means that a person isn't sure, so what's the point of additionally stressing their mistake? they kind of preemptively admitted it by asking the question... or you're missing my point, correcting doesn't require letting them know they're wrong by saying что вы, the actual answer speaks for itself Mar 8, 2019 at 22:45
  • i don't know the origin of the expression but it seems like a shortened version of a more verbose one, for example it's a part of a very rude expression "Что ты несёшь?" - "What the hell are you talking about?". not saying this is the origin but the actual origin could have also been impolite Nov 26, 2023 at 12:44

According to D.I.Kveselevich, что ты! is used to express negation, disagreement, warning: what!; what's got into you?; what a thing to say!; why, no, really; no fear, not me (him, her, etc.); whatever has come over you?

The more formal вы removes impoliteness (if any) completely.


"ты" is similar to the archaic English "thou" as a singular form of address, Example:

Thou hast not half that power to do me harm As I have to be hurt (Shakespeare).

"ты" is informal and singular, while "вы" is formal or plural in Russian, just like "you" is in modern English.

Using "вы" informally is silly, if not pretentious.

Это ваш папа? - Нет! Что вы! Это мой дядя. Yes, it translates to "What are you saying?" or "Of course not!", but the person has broken informal and formal rules (rude and pretentious). The second reacts politely yet emotionally сorrectly using 'Вы'.


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