Corso di italianoItalianoSeconda unità

2.6. Cosa? Perché? Questions and question pronouns

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There are two types of questions: yes/no questions, like Abiti a Milano? Do you live in Milan? and open questions introduced by a question pronoun, like Dove abiti? Where do you live? Let’s ask questions in Italian!

Ask questions in Italian

In Italian, a yes/no question looks exactly like a normal statement: you just have to do a question intonation or write a question mark at the end. Open questions need a question pronoun. This is placed at the very beginning, before the verb.

StatementBrunoabitaa Bolzano.
QuestionBrunoabitaa Bolzano?Sì / No.
Question with question pronounDoveabitaBruno?A Bolzano.

Question pronouns

As we have seen, question pronouns (pronomi interrogativi) introduce an open question. Here is an overview of question pronouns in Italian:

ComeCome stai?How are you?
Che cosa
Che cosa fai?
Cosa fai?
What do you do?
CheChe libro leggi?What / what kind of book do you read?
QualeQual è il tuo sport preferito?What is your favorite sport?
lit. which is your favorite sport?
ChiChi sei?Who are you?
DoveDove abiti?Where do you live?
Di dove
Da dove
Di dove sei?
Da dove vieni?
Where are you from?
QuantoQuanti anni hai?How old are you?
lit. How many years do you have?
PerchéPerché impari l’italiano?Why do you learn Italian?
QuandoQuando sei nato?When were you born?
Che means what in the sense of what kind or which and is followed by a noun.
Che libro leggi? Che sport fai? Che lavoro fai? Che film guardi?

In colloquial language che can be used as synonym of che cosa, see below.

There is almost no difference between che cosa and cosa. Furthermore, che can also have the same meaning of che cosa / cosa, but colloquially. On a scale from a more polite language (1) to colloquial language (3), it looks like this
1. che cosa fai?
2. cosa fai?
3. che fai?
The questioning pronoun quanto how much adapts to gender and number and has four forms:

Masc.Quanto tempo hai?
How much time do you have?
Quanti biglietti hai?
How many tickets do you have?
Fem.Quanta frutta compri?
How much fruit do you buy?
Quante valigie hai?
How many suitcases do you have?

We use the basic form quanto also with verbs: Quanto costa? How much does it cost?
Note: In exclamations quanto and its forms mean so much/many: Quante valigie! So many suitcases!

The question pronoun quale which adapts only to number (singular/plural), but has a peculiarity: before the verb forms è is, era was and in some fixed expressions, quale loses the “e” and becomes qual.

Masc./Fem.qual (è, era)

Cody, what’s your favorite sport?
I like cycling!

Impara con Kira e Cody

Dal calendario 2019

Che cosa? What?  
Come? How? 

Cody: What are you? What's your name? Where do you live?
Pina: I am a bee. My name is Pina. I live in Florence.

Chi? Who? 
Da dove?
From where?
Sei + nazionalità?
Are you + nationality?

Kira: Who are you? Where are you from? Are you Italian?
Bianca: I am Bianca, an arctic fox. I come from Sweden. No, I am Swedish.
Quando? When?
How many?

Cody: Who are you? When were you born? How old are you? (Lit. How many years do you have?)
Scotty: I'm the squirrel Scotty. I was born November 4th, 2016. I am two years old (lit. I have two years).
Perché? Why?

Kira: And who are you? Why are you learning Italian?
Ronfo: I am the bear Ronfo*. Because I like Italy and have Italian friends!

*Ronfo è il fratello di Bruno! Ronfo is Bruno's brother!  🙂

1. Chi sei? Sono Kira. Who are you? I'm Kira.
2. Da dove vieni? Vengo da Brema. Where are you from? I'm from Brema.
3. Dove abiti? Abito a Monaco. Where do you live? I live in Munich.
4. Quanti anni hai? Ho 30 anni (trent'anni). How old are you? I'm 30.
5. Come ti chiami? Mi chiamo Cody. What's your name? My name is Cody.
6. Quando sei nato? Sono nato il 6 marzo 1988 (sei marzo millenovecentoottantotto). When were you born? I was born on 6 March 1988.


Fai un esercizio!

Prossima lezione: Anche a me!

Il corso
, ,
3.5. Mesi e stagioni: months and seasons
2.7. Answer properly: Anche a me! Anch’io!

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