How to use "же" in Russian

“Же” is an intensifying particle that doesn’t have an exact translation in English.

What does “же” mean

“Же” can be used to convey the meaning of emphasis, amplification, intensity, specificity, objection, comparison, sameness, softness, or even a rhetorical question.

As such, there are many different uses for “же”. The best way to figure out how to use the word is to go through our example sentences below. Being able to use “же” in a nuanced way is one of the best ways to come across as a fluent speaker to a native Russian.

Also, a quick note on word order: “же” always follows the word it qualifies.

(Side note, if you know German, “же” is similar to the German word, “doch.”)

Uses of “же”

Below we go through the many different uses of "же." Under each use case, we'll show two example sentences - with and without "же." That way, you should be able to understand the nuanced difference that the word brings to each sentence.

To show contrast

  • Я люблю кофе, а она любит чай. = I love coffee, but she loves tea.
  • Я люблю кофе, она же любит чай. = I love coffee, but she really loves tea.

To make comparisons

With "так" in comparisons (that are not negative).

  • Он так же умён, как я. = He is just as clever as I am.

To express sameness

With "такой" when saying something is the same.

  • Ты такой же, как все молодые люди. = You’re just like all young people.

To stress indisputability of a statement

  • Ты обещал! = You promised!
  • Ты же обещал! = But you promised!

In questions, to convey indignation or astonishment

  • Где книга? = Where’s the book?
  • Где же книга? = Where's the book for god's sake? / So where's the pen?

To specify a precise time or place in combination with an adverb

  • Приеду сегодня. = I will arrive today.
  • Приеду сегодня же. = I will come straightaway.
  • Там живёт мой друг. = My friend lives there.
  • Там же живёт мой друг. = That’s where my friend lives.

To convey meanings of identity or similarity

  • Мы идём по той же улице. = We are walking down the same street
  • Он одет в такой же галстук. = He is dressed in the same kind of tie.

To bring an impatience or insistence to imperatives

  • Расскажи же! = Come on, tell us all about it!

To express amazement with the phrase, “надо же”

надо же = wow!

  • Я ношла новую работу.
  • Надо же! Поздравляю! = Wow! Congratulations!

To express disbelief with the phrase, "как же"

как же = no way! (negative connotation)

  • Ты представляешь, я выиграл в лотерею! = Can you believe it? I won the lottery!
  • Как же! Тебе же не верю. = No way! I don't believe you.

Question words followed by "же"

Question words followed by "же" often are used to express when a person is a surprised to hear about something.

какой же?
  • Я купил новую машину. = I bought a new car.
  • Какую же? = What kind?!
где же?
  • Сегодня я был в другой стране. = Today I was in another country.
  • Где же?! = Where!?
как же?
  • Наконец-то я закончил свое сочинение. = I finally finished my essay.
  • Как же? = How?!
когда же?
  • Я скоро поеду в Лондон. = I am going to London soon.
  • Скоро же? = When!?
с кем же?
  • Завтра я иду на пляж. = I'm going to the beach tomorrow.
  • С кем же? = With whom?
почему же?
  • Я не хочу идти в кино. = I don't want to go to the cinema.
  • Почему же? = How come?!
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