The phrase "Ты кто такой" supposedly means "Who are you?". I have a few questions.

  1. Does the phrase "Ты кто?" have a meaning? If so, how does it differ from "Ты кто такой" ?

  2. Are there other question forms with "такой" on the end? Is the "такой" necessary to be grammatically correct, and if not, what extra meaning does in convey?

  3. How can we explain the meaning of this phrase, given that "такой" means "such" ?

  • This is like asking "Whoever are you?" or "And who might you be?" with marginal perplexity.
    – CocoPop
    Jan 29, 2015 at 13:58
  • 2
    >The phrase "Ты кто такой" supposedly means "Who are you?". Nope, in most of cases this phrase means: Who the fuck you are? So be cautios...
    – Barmaley
    Feb 2, 2015 at 12:34

3 Answers 3


The direct translation of "Who are you?" will be "Kто вы?".

Both Ты кто? and ты кто такой? do not sound very politely. "Tы кто такой?", said with a certain intonation, would approximately "who on earth are you?" or "what are you thinking you are?".
"Tы кто?" maybe ok on a student party, but not in general.

  1. "Ты кто?" is grammatically correct and means "who are you?" (singular). It is not very common to say "ты" to people you do not know, so its use is a bit restricted.
  2. Not very many, but you can ask
    • "Интересно, кто он такой?" (I wonder, what is he?)
    • "Почему он такой?" (why is he like that?)
  3. "такой" can also mean "like that", "sort of", so you can interpret "Tы кто такой?" approximately as "what sort of human are you"?
  • 1
    N. B. 2nd person singular form of to be in English was art: ‘who art thou?’, not ‘who are thou?’. Jan 28, 2015 at 23:34
  • Doesn't "thou art" correspond to "ты еси"? Never mind, I better replace "thou" with "you (singular)"
    – J-mster
    Jan 29, 2015 at 0:25
  • @Dmitry Alexandrov now it is are. are thou.
    – Anixx
    Jan 29, 2015 at 6:42
  • @Anixx: The correct form is "thou ART" - an archaic conjugation for an archaic pronoun. At that time, ARE was used with ye for the 2nd person plural, so "thou ARE" would de nonsensical.
    – CocoPop
    Jan 29, 2015 at 13:57

The very basic meanin stays the same as «Ты кто?»/ «Кто ты?»; «такой» is not required grammatically.

However, "такой" adds an emotional flavour of "What on earth is ...?", "What kind of ... is that?" and so on.

It is also used in:

  • Что это такое? = What is this?, also when scolding a child who did something wrong
  • Что такое? = What's the matter? → here just "что?" would sound more vague and may be used in a wider range of situations.
  • Кто они такие? = Who are these people?

Since "такой" means "this kind of", all of these questions add more emphasis on how you totally don't know the exact and even approximate identity of the thing in question. I do not know the origin of such phrasing, since it is has crystallized in these constructions and is not used freely in more complicated sentences.


The nice real-life example is the (in-)famous conversation between S.Lavrov and D.Milliband in 2008. Supposedly, english sentence was: 'Who are you to f... lecture me?' And russian translation is 'Кто ты такой…, чтобы мне лекции читать?!' See, for example, russian wiki at https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%9B%D0%B0%D0%B2%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B2,%D0%A1%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%B3%D0%B5%D0%B9%D0%92%D0%B8%D0%BA%D1%82%D0%BE%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87

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