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Pronunciation of "чем" - different in a phrase vs. said alone?

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I'm going off of a translator's pronunciation, so it could be wrong. But it sounds like "чем" is pronounced "chyem" when said on its own.. but in a phrase, like "в чем проблема?" the translator is saying "chyOm" .. which is the right way to say it? Does it change if not in a sentence? (Is this a dumb question?) =)

asked Jan 13, 2013 by welrod (150 points)

1 Answer

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These are two different word forms. "чем" and "чём" are declensions of the same word "что". They are pronounced differently: чем [chyem] (instrumental), чём [chyom] (prepositional). Russians often write the letter "e" instead of "ё" and this makes learners confused.

Your example should be written "В чём проблема?" ( "В чём" is pronounced [f chyOm] )

Here's the declension of что:

case            singular  
nominative      что́  
genitive        чего́  
dative          чему́  
accusative      что́  
instrumental    че́м  
prepositional   о/в чём

There is also conjunction "чем", which is normally translated as "than".

answered Jan 13, 2013 by Alex (13,560 points)
selected Jan 13, 2013 by welrod