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Thread: czemu/dlaczego

  1. #1
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    czemu/dlaczego

    Hi everyone!

    I was just wondering if "czemu?" and "dlaczego?" can be used interchangeably or if there is some subtle difference between them.

    If there is a difference, does it have anything to do with how formal/informal the setting is? I seem to recall "czemu" being used often in conversations but rarely in front of a pulpit, for example.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by radosna; 1st September 2012 at 4:03 AM. Reason: grammatical

  2. #2
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    Re: czemu/dlaczego

    "Czemu" is simply a colloquial form of "dlaczego". Probably that's why you mostly heard it in conversations.

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    Re: czemu/dlaczego

    Ok. That's what I thought. I just wanted to make sure that I wasn't missing some sort of subtle difference between the two in terms of its meaning. One can never be sure when it's not your native language! (Even in your native language, one can't always be sure!)

    Thanks, majlo!

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    Re: czemu/dlaczego

    Note: beside its idiomatic meaning, "czemu" might also be used in its original meaning (as dative of "co"):

    "Czemu się teraz przyglądasz?" - "What are you looking at now?"
    "Czemu służy ten przycisk?" - "What is this button for?"
    I appreciate your corrections.

  5. #5
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    Re: czemu/dlaczego

    Exactly. Mind you the first sentence is ambiguous and "czemu" can be understood in two ways. 1) What are you looking at now? and 2) Why are you looking now?

  6. #6
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    Re: czemu/dlaczego

    Can you think of a context in which "Czemu się teraz przyglądasz" would take on the second meaning? I find it very unlikely that anyone could say it to mean this. It would sound extremely weird.

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    Re: czemu/dlaczego

    Quote Originally Posted by majlo View Post
    "Czemu" is simply a colloquial form of "dlaczego". Probably that's why you mostly heard it in conversations.
    Yes, I agree.

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    Re: czemu/dlaczego

    Quote Originally Posted by dreamlike View Post
    Can you think of a context in which "Czemu się teraz przyglądasz" would take on the second meaning? I find it very unlikely that anyone could say it to mean this. It would sound extremely weird.
    Hi, Dreamlike. I also agree with you. "Czemu sie teraz przygladasz" will mean only "what are you looking at", to me at least. And the phrase "czemu sluzy ten przycisk" it is hardly ever heard like that, especially in more formal settings. "Do czego sluzy ten przycisk?" would be something that I would use. (I am verry sorry -- I cannot use any diacritics at this time -- the don't appear as an option) Although, after I thought about it some more, I think "Czemu sie teraz przygladasz?" can also mean "Why are you starring (at something or somebody) now?" It would have to be properly stressed though. It will have to be expressed through proper intonation, with the stress on "czemu". It might be confusing in a written form.
    Last edited by LilianaB; 1st September 2012 at 3:04 PM.

  9. #9
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    Re: czemu/dlaczego

    Dreamlike, just because one meaning is much more probable doesn't make the other non-existent.

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    Re: czemu/dlaczego

    Majlo, I entirely agree. The thing is that I'd be more likely to say "Czemu się tak temu przyglądasz?" - "Why are you starring at this like that?"

    I'd also say "Do czego służy ten przycisk?" to mean "What is this button for?".

  11. #11
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    Re: czemu/dlaczego

    And I'd say so too. And most of Polish natives in most cases. But sometimes you can get confused when coming across the other meaning.

    That's why I wrote "might also be used".
    I appreciate your corrections.

  12. #12
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    Re: czemu/dlaczego

    Yes, it might, in fact. "Czemu sie przygladasz? What are you looking at? "Czemu sie przygladasz/" -- why are you starring (at me -- in most cases). It all depends on the intonation.

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    Re: czemu/dlaczego

    To be honest, Liliana, I can't conceive of any intontation that would make possible for "Czemu się przyglądasz?" to mean "Why are you starring (at me)". One would have to include "temu/mi".

    "Czemu się temu (tak) przyglądasz?", "Czemu się mi (tak) przyglądasz".

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    Re: czemu/dlaczego

    Czemu się tak przygłądasz. Scene: A woman is cooking soup, adding, every five minutes, two tablespoons of salt to the pot. Her husband is starring at her in disbelief. "Czemu się przygłądasz?", would be a natural reaction, I think. Meaning why are you starring (at me, at me cooking).
    Last edited by LilianaB; 1st September 2012 at 9:56 PM.

  15. #15
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    Re: czemu/dlaczego

    Yes, that would be a natural reaction, provided that the wife had included "tak". Having said that, I'd be far more likely to ask "Co się tak przyglądasz?" "Czemu się tak przyglądasz" would be fine too, though.
    Last edited by dreamlike; 1st September 2012 at 9:32 PM.

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    Re: czemu/dlaczego

    You could hear it without tak, as far as I remember. Tak is an intensifier.

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    Re: czemu/dlaczego

    It wouldn't make much sense to me without "tak", but given the context of the situation I'd probably understand it. But still, it would feel odd. I wonder what others make of that

  18. #18
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    Re: czemu/dlaczego

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, everybody!

  19. #19
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    Re: czemu/dlaczego

    I agree with dreamlike. In that situation one would say:

    "Co sie tak przygladasz?" (very colloquial),
    alternatively one could say "Czemu sie tak przygladasz?".

    Another possibility would be: "Dlaczego sie mi tak przygladasz?".

    In each case I would add 'tak' to make the sentence complete.

  20. #20
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    Re: czemu/dlaczego

    Quote Originally Posted by LilianaB View Post
    You could hear it without tak, as far as I remember. Tak is an intensifier.
    to be precise i think word tak is not intensifier but adverb functioning as adverbial of manner/method.
    proszę o poprawianie błędów w moich wypowiedziach / please correct any mistakes in my utterances

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