the difference in these two words is something I don't understand, is it just me or do those words actually mean the same thing?

for example: if I want to say

I don't Know yet!

do I say

пока не знаю


ещё не знаю



2 Answers 2


In the context you are using it, the words indeed have a similar meaning - "yet". Fun fact, you can also say:

Пока еще не знаю.

Пока in the meaning of yet is actually the short of пока еще. From Ushakov's dictionary:

ПОКА́ нареч.

... со словом “еще” или без него. До сего времени, до этих пор, всё еще. Сведений пока нет. Пока еще ждем. Пока еще не уехали.


They're really similar (and can be used together as the previous poster suggested), but intuitively, I'd say Я ещё не знаю implies a greater degree of confidence, imminence, and/or proximity in time, compared to Я пока не знаю, of your knowing eventually. You could say that пока is neutral expectation-wise, while ещё is somewhat on the optimistic side.

Come to think of it, the latter is a better way to describe it, because with undesirable eventualities, the confidence factor is reversed: Я ещё не умер is definitely upbeat compared to the resigned-ish Я пока не умер.

On third thoughts (sorry but I'm really making these little discoveries as I go along, it's fascinating), the very neutrality of пока can, with these undesirable outcomes, give it a "so far so good" touch that doesn't quite work with ещё. E.g. Съел-таки (=я всё-таки съел) эти просроченные консервы. Пока не умер.

So in the end, what I could definitely say is that ещё is about a more likely, or temporally nearer, outcome — which is consistent with its being more "optimistic" because when it's not about being "almost there", it's about defying the odds.

  • @ Nikolay Ershov пока is "for now"; across this lump of space-time" it implies movement in time. ещё is "still"; at this very moment in space and time; it doesn't imply movement in time. Я пока не умер— For now (at present) I'm not dead (but who knows about the future). Я ещё не умер— I'm still not dead. (and we're not going to think about the future at all; it only matter in this moment.
    – VCH250
    Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 21:33

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