How to Ask Questions in Italian

Learn how to use interrogative words in Italian

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Who is Carlo? Where is the train station? What time is it? Why do Italians talk with their hands? How do you make gnocchi?

These are all questions that you’ll likely need to ask when you are in Italy or speaking Italian, and so you’re going to need to understand the basics of how to ask questions.

Here Are the Basics:

  • Chi? - Who? Whom?

  • Che?/Cosa? - What?

  • Quando? - When?

  • Dove? - Where?

  • Perché? - Why?

  • Come? - How?

  • Qual/Quali? - Which?

  • Quanto/a/i/e? - How much?

TIP: In questions beginning with an interrogative word, the subject or the personal pronoun is usually placed at the end of the sentence. Quando arriva Michele? - When does Michael arrive?

Let’s take a look at how these vocabulary words are used in real life conversation.

Chi? - Who? Whom?

Prepositions such as a, di, con, and per always precede the interrogative word “chi”. In Italian, a question never ends with a preposition.

  • Chi è lui? - Who is he?

  • Chi parla? - Who is speaking? (on the phone)

  • Chi sono? - Who are they?/Who am I?

  • Con chi hai cenato ieri sera? -  With whom did you have dinner last night?

Che?/Cosa? - What?

Che” and “cosa” are abbreviated forms of the phrase “che cosa”. The forms are interchangeable.

  • A che ora? - At what time?

  • Che lavoro fa? - What work do you do? (formal)

  • Cosa ti piace di più della cucina toscana? - What’s your favorite Tuscan dish?

  • Cos’è questo? - What is this?

As you can see with the last example, sometimes the conjugation of the verb “essere”, in this case “è”, can combine with the question word “cosa”.

Quando? - When

  • Quando parti per l’Italia? - When do you leave for Italy? (informal)

  • Quand’è il tuo compleanno? - When is your birthday? (informal)

  • Quando è arrivata lei?/Lei quando è arrivata? - When did she arrive?

Dove? - Where?

  • Di dove sei? - Where are you from? (informal)

  • Dove hai lasciato gli occhiali? - Where did you leave your glasses?

  • Dove si trova una gelateria? - Where does one find an ice cream shop?

  • Dov’è la stazione dei treni? - Where is the train station?

As you can see with the last example, sometimes the conjugation of the verbessere”, in this case “è”, can combine with the question word “dove”.

Perché? - Why?

  • Perché sei in Italia? - Why are you in Italy? (informal)

  • Perché studia l’Italiano? - Why are you studying Italian? (formal)

Come? - How?

  • Come sta? - How are you? (formal)

  • Come si chiama? - What is your name? (formal)

  • Com’è un giorno perfetto, secondo te? - What is a perfect day according to you? (informal)

Qual/Quali? - Which?

As with all adjectives, agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify, except for “che”, which doesn’t change.

  • Qual è il suo segno zodiacale? - What is your zodiac sign? (formal)

  • Quali sono i tuoi interessi? - What are your interests? (informal)

Quanto/a/i/e? - How Much?

As with all adjectives, agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify, except for “che”, which doesn’t change.

  • Quant’è? - How much is it?

  • Quanto tempo ci vuole per arrivare a Firenze? - How long does it take to arrive in Florence?

  • Da quanto tempo studia l’italiano? - How long have you been studying Italian? (formal)

  • Quante persone vivono a Roma? - How many people live in Rome?

  • Quanti anni hai? - How old are you? (informal)