Interrogative Pronouns

Pronomi interrogativi
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Pronomi interrogativi

Who, what, which one? Use interrogative pronouns to ask these questions, which are a little more complicated in Italian than in English.

Characteristics of interrogative pronouns

  1. Ask who(m), what, which one(s), or how much/many
  2. Can be subjects, direct objects, or objects of a preposition

Chi

Chi means "who" or "whom"; it’s used when asking about people. It is invariable and can be a subject …

Per esempio

Chi va al mercato?   Who’s going to the market?
Chi ha comprato il pane?   Who bought the bread?

or a direct object …

Per esempio

Chi conosce qui?   Whom do you know here?
Chi ha visto?   Whom did she see?

or the object of a preposition:

Per esempio…

Di chi stanno parlando?   Whom are they talking about?
A chi hai inviato la lettera?   Whom did you send the letter to?

Che cosa

Che cosa means "what" and is used to refer to ideas or things. It too is invariable and can be subject, direct object, or object of a preposition.

Per esempio…

Che cosa vuoi fare oggi?   What do you want to do today?
Che cosa vedono?   What do they see?
Di che cosa state parlando?   What are you talking about?

Informally, che cosa can be reduced to simply cosa.

Cosa vuoi fare oggi?   What do you want to do today?
Cosa vedono?   What do they see?
Di cosa state parlando?   What are you talking about?

In the south of Italy, che cosa may be reduced to just che.

Che vuoi fare oggi?   What do you want to do today?
Che vedono?   What do they see?
Di che state parlando?   What are you talking about?

Quale

Quale means "which one" and quali means "which ones"; they are used for identifying and choosing.

Per esempio…

– Comprerò una macchina.
– Quale?
  – I’m going to buy a car.
– Which one?
– Abbiamo visitato alcune scuole.
– Quali?
  – We visited some schools.
– Which ones?

 Quale/quali are also interrogative adjectives.

Quanto

Quanto / quanta mean "how much" and quanti / quante mean "how many."

Per esempio…

– Comprate del pane.
– Quanto?
  – Buy some bread.
– How much?
– Ha molte sorelle!
– Quante?
  – He has a lot of sisters!
– How many?

 Quanto et al can also be interrogative adjectives.

 Related lessons

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Italian interrogative pronouns

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