The Correct Way To Ask Questions In Italian

We're coving the 10 most important things to know to get by in Italian. Monday we looked at Italian greetings. And Wednesday we looked at the common courtesies. Today, we'll look at the third thing on the list: asking questions.

3. Questions

I already wrote a somewhat more detailed post about the Italian question words a few months ago. But today we're not examing them so closely. Instead, we're more interested in common ways they might be used and what you need to know as a traveler.

Che? : What?

Chi? : Who?

Come? : How?

Quando? : When?

Quanto? : How much?

Quale? : Which?

Dove? : Where?

Come si chiama? : What's your name?

Come sta? : How are you?

Quanti anni ha? : How old are you?

Cosa fa? : What are you doing?

Dov'è? : Where is it?

Dove va? : Where are you going?

A che ora è? : When is it?

Quanto costa questo? : How much does this cost?

And we should probably consider a few ways to answer questions, too.

Sì. : Yes.

No. : No.

Forse. : Maybe.

Certo. : Sure.

Assolutamente no! : Absolutely not!


The first thing to take note of is the way the cosa (literally "thing") is so often used as a way of asking "what?" The question cosa fai? (for example) is actually a contraction of che cosa fai?

Also important is noting the difference between dove and dov'è. The latter, of course, is a contraction of dove and è.

And one last detail worth note is that you use quando when asking about a general time, such as to ask "when was this temple built?", but you use a che ora when asking when something will occur, such as "when does the movie start?"

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Author: Yearlyglot
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  • Randy Yearlyglot

    I'm loving these posts. Keep up the great work. I have Italian heritage so can "hear" the language quite well, just not confident enough to speak it (yet)."A che ora" - is more literally translated as "at what hour" so is in a way asking for a specific time (A che ora inizia il film?)Cheers,

  • Randy Yearlyglot

    You're absolutely right about that. But I prefer not to do literal word-for-word translations.

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