The words где and куда both mean ‘where’ in Russian. However, they are used in different situations.
This may be confusing for learners, but by the end of this lesson, you will know exactly when and how to use где and куда in Russian.
The lesson is divided into three parts:
If there is any part of the lesson you would like to study first, you can go straight to that subject by clicking on the above titles.
The difference between где and куда is very easy to understand.
Где is used to ask about location and куда is used to ask about direction.
In other words, when we use куда, we want to know the direction in which something or someone is moving. When we use где, however, we want to know where something is located or happens.
Let’s compare two sentences:
In the first example, we want to know the place or the location where someone lives, so we use где.
In the second example, we are not asking about the person’s location. We want to know in which direction the person is going, so we use куда.
Let’s take a look at other examples:
In the first example we want to know the location of the phone, so we use где.
In the second example, however, we want to know the direction in which the ball was thrown, so we use куда.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the answer to a question with где usually contains a preposition, such as в (in) or на (on), plus a place in the Prepositional Case. For example:
The answer can also contain a preposition, such as под (under) or за (behind), plus a place in the Instrumental Case. For example:
In the above examples, the word ящик is in the Prepositional Case, that’s why it becomes ящике. And the word машина is in the Instrumental Case, that’s why it becomes машиной.
If you don’t know yet how to use these cases in Russian, you can check our complete lessons about them:
The answer to a question with куда, on the other hand, usually contains a preposition, such as в, на, под or за, plus a place in the Accusative Case. For example:
In the above examples, the words работа and сумка are in the Accusative Case, that’s why they become работу and сумку.
If you don’t know yet how to use the Accusative Case in Russian, you can check out our complete lesson about it by clicking here.
As you’ve just learnt, где is used to ask about location.
To be more specific, we usually use где in two situations:
Let’s take a look at examples for each of these situations.
As you learnt earlier in the lesson, the word куда is used to ask about the direction in which something or someone moves.
More specifically, we usually use куда in two situations:
Let’s take a look at each of these situations in more detail.
When we make questions using verbs that denote movement in a specific direction, such as go, walk, drive, fly, move and run, we usually use куда. For example:
When we ask where someone places or moves an object, we also use куда.
In such questions, we use transitive verbs such as put, throw, take, carry, move or place. For example:
This situation is usually more difficult for students, so let’s take a closer look at the meaning of each of these sentences.
In the first example, when the person takes the documents somewhere, they are moved from one place to another.
In the second example, when the person puts the keys somewhere, the keys are also moved from one place to another.
And in the third example, when someone throws the bottle, the bottle is also moved from one place to another.
As you can see, the idea of movement is present in all of the above examples.
There are a few verbs commonly used with куда that don’t fit into the situations mentioned above.
Let’s take a look at the most common of them.
When we want to ask where something fell, that is, in which direction something fell, we use the word куда.
Note that when we use куда in such questions, we want to know the direction in which the object fell. However, if we wanted to know the location where the action took place, we would use the word где. For example:
When we want to ask where someone is looking, we also use куда. For example:
When someone is getting ready to go somewhere, we often use the word куда to ask where the person is getting ready to go to. For example:
Note that we don’t need the verb идти (go) in this sentence since the word куда already implies that the person is going to move in some direction.
And that’s all for this lesson.
Now you know the difference between the Russian words где and куда and when to use each of them.