The interrogative pronouns in Italian

What is an interrogative pronoun?

In English the interrogative pronouns are who…?, which…?, whose…?, whom…?, and what…?. They are used without a noun to ask questions.

The interrogative pronouns in Italian

  • These are the interrogative pronouns in Italian:

Chi? Who? Whom?
Che? What?
Cosa? What?
Che cosa? What?
Quale? Which? Which one?
Quanto? How much?
Quanti? How many?

  • Chi, che, cosa and che cosa never change their form.

Chi è? Who is it?
Chi sono? Who are they?
Che vuoi? What do you want?
Cosa vuole? What does he/she want?
Che cosa vogliono? What do they want?

Note that there is no difference between che, cosa and che cosa.

  • Quale is used for the masculine and feminine singular, and quali is used for masculine and feminine plural.

Conosco sua sorella. – Quale? I know his sister. – Which one?
Ho rotto dei bicchieri. – Quali? I broke some glasses. – Which ones?

  • Quanto and quanti have feminine forms.

Farina? Quanta ce ne vuole? Flour? How much is needed?
Quante persone passano la sera a leggere? How many people spend the evening reading?

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Che cos’è or qual è?

They both mean what is? but are used in different ways:

  • Use che cos’è? or che cosa sono? when you’re asking someone to explain or identify something.

Che cos’è questo? What’s this?
Che cosa sono questi? – Sono funghi. What are these? – They’re mushrooms.

  • Use qual è? or quali sono?, not che, when you ask  what is?, or what are?  to find out a particular detail, number, name, and so on.

Qual è il suo indirizzo? What’s her address?
Qual è la capitale della Finlandia? What’s the capital of Finland?
Quali sono I loro indirizzi? What are their addresses?

Note that quale becomes qual in front of a vowel.


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Chi?

  • Use chi for both who and whom.

Chi ha vinto? Who won?
Chi hai visto? Whom did you see?

  • when there is a preposition in your question put it in front of chi.

A chi l’hai dato? Who did you give it to?
Con chi parlavi? Who were you talking to?
A chi si riferiva? To whom was he referring?

  • Use di chi è? or di chi sono? to ask who things belong to.

Di chi è questa borsa? Whose is this bag?
Di chi sono queste chiavi? Whose are these keys?

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