How to ask questions in Italian.

How To Ask Questions


One of the easiest ways to fare una domanda (ask a question) in Italian is to place a question mark at the end of a statement, effectively changing it into a question. When speaking, the intonation of the voice rises at the end of the sentence. For example:


  • Il treno è arrivato The train has arrived.
  • Il treno è arrivato? Has the train arrived?


Besides this method, the key words when asking questions are:


  • Chi? – Who? Can be used when referring to a person.
  • Chi sei? – Who are you?
  • Chi è quel ragazzo? – Who is that guy?
  • Che/cosa/che cosa? – What? Can only be used when referring to an object.


We use cosa when you don’t know anything about the thing we are talking about, and the reply is not limited to one category. Some examples:


  • Cosa è questo? – What is that?
  • Cosa ti piace? – What do you like?


Che cosa should be used when you haven’t heard what has been said, so you ask “che cosa?” to invite the person to repeat what they said.


The following are usually explained as being different in grammar books. However, in spoken Italian, they are often interchangeable:


  • Che cosa mangi?
  • Cosa mangi?
  • Che mangi?


All of the phrases above mean what are you eating?”


Che cosa hai detto? – What did you say?


Cosa fai? – What are you doing?



Quale? (Which/What?) It is the same for both masculine and feminine, but it has a plural form that is quali. Quale is used to ask questions about quality (quali progetti hai? or “What projects do you have?”) or about identity (in quale negozio vuoi andare? or “to what shop would you like to go?”). It is possible to find the form qual (instead of quale) when there is a vowel after it. For example:


  • Qual è? – Which one? (Please notice there is no apostrophe!)
  • Qual è l’autobus per il centro? – Which is the bus to downtown?


Quanto? (How much/how many?) Can be used as either an adjective or as a pronoun. If you use it as an adjective, it must agree with the noun’s gender and quantity, so it then becomesquanto, quanta, quanti, quante. Examples of it as an adjective are:


  • Quanti amici hai? – How many friends do you have?
  • Quanti anni hai? – How old are you? (literally “how many years do you have?”)


When quanto is used as a pronoun, its form doesn’t change.


  • Quanto costa questa giacca? – How much does this jacket cost?


Perché? – Why? Can be used both to ask a question and to reply.


  • Perché sei arrabbiato? – Why are you angry?
  • Perché non vai al lavoro oggi? – Why don’t you go to work today?
  • Perché sono malato – Because I am sick.


Dove? – Where?


  • Da dove vieni? / Di dove sei? – Where are you from?
  • Dov’è la penna? – Where is the pen?


Come? – How?


  • Come ti chiami? – What’s your name? (Literally “how are you called?”)
  • Come va? – How are you? (Literally “how is it going?”)
  • Come sei arrivato? – How did you arrive?


Quando? – When? This is the word used for asking the time. For example:


  • Quando parti? – When do you leave?
  • Quando parte l’aereo? – When is the plane leaving?


However, if we need to ask the specific time, we use che:


  • che ore sono? – What time is it?



Choose, for each statement, the correct question.


1. Adesso vado a casa.

  • Come vai a casa?
  • Quando vai a casa?
  • Perché vai a casa?
  • Sei a casa?


2. Vado a lavoro con la macchina.

  • Quando vai al lavoro?
  • Perché vai al lavoro?
  • Come vai al lavoro?
  • Ci sei al lavoro?


3. Sto a casa.

  • Dove sei?
  • Quando arrivi?
  • Come stai?
  • Perché stai a casa?


4. Mi metto i pantaloni rossi e una camicia bianca.

  • Perché ti vesti?
  • Come ti vesti?
  • Quanto ti vesti?
  • Quando ti vesti?


5. Non conosco bene l’italiano.

  • Quanto conosci l’italiano?
  • Perché parli poco?
  • Come parli in italiano con gli amici?
  • Quando parli in italiano?


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