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Univerbation of the phrase за чем (za čem), from the preposition за (za) + чем (čem), instrumental singular of что (što, what). This was originally marked as Saint Petersburg dialect, while in Moscow зачто́ (zaštó) was used as late as the 18th century.


  • IPA(key): [zɐˈt͡ɕem]
  • (file)


заче́м (začém)

  1. (interrogative adverb) why? (with what object/for what purpose)

Usage notes[edit]

  • заче́м (začém) differs from почему́ (počemú) in that the latter simply means, "Why?" while заче́м (začém) means, "What for?" Sometimes the words are interchangeable, but sometimes one is more appropriate than the other.
  • The reply begins with что́бы (štóby) or зате́м, что́бы (zatém, štóby).

Related terms[edit]

See also[edit]