Questions in Italian

Asking questions in Italian is really easy: it's just a matter of tone. If you look at the following examples there are no differences the way the words are sequenced. The change that occurs when placing a question mark at the end of the statement is one of intonation, the voice rises at the end of the sentence.

Asking Questions in Italian by Changing Tone

Io ho una bicicletta

I have a bike.

Io ho una bicicletta?

I have a bike?

Alessandro ha mangiato la pizza.

Alessandro ate the pizza.

Alessandro ha mangiato la pizza?

Alessandro ate the pizza?

Interrogative pronouns

In some sentences, which begin with interrogative pronouns like where, what, or who, there are some conventions to observe. In questions beginning with interrogative pronouns, the subject can be placed at the end of the sentence.

Dov'è la mamma?

Where is my mother?

Che cosa fa Paolo?

What is Paolo Doing?

Chi è la tua amica?

Who is your friend?

Using "no?" to change a sentence into a question

Adding the phrases no? non è vero? è vero? or vero?  to the end of the statement will change the sentence into a question.

Il tempo è brutto, vero?

The weather is bad, right?

Paola è carina, no?

Paola is nice, isn’t she?

Sono simpatici, non è vero?

They are nice, aren’t they?

The Italian interrogative clauses

    In Italian there are three main kinds of interrogative clause:

  • The simple interrogative clauses, that accept a positive or negative answer (si/no, yes/no) or a specific answer.

Hai comprato le mele? Sì

Did you buy apples? Yes, I did

Dove abiti? A Roma

Where are you living? In Rome

  • The disjunctive interrogative clauses, which contain acceptable alternative answers within the question.

Vuoi un gelato o un tè?

Do you want an ice-cream or a tea?

Andiamo al cinema, in discoteca o al pub?

Are we going to the cinema, to the disco or to the pub?

  • The rhetoric interrogative clauses, which require a positive answer.

Non ti ho sempre aiutato?

Did I never help you?

Italian interrogative pronouns: rules and examples

    There are four:
  • chi, who: invariable and refers only to people, either singular or plural.

Chi è lui?

Who is he?

Chi ha mangiato la carne?

Who ate the meat?

Chi viene con me?

Who comes with me?

  • che or che cosa, what: invariable, refers just to things or concepts.

Che fai?

What are you doing?

Che cosa ha detto?

What did he say?

Che cosa mangiamo?

What do we eat?

  • quale (qual, quali), which: invariable in genre, it has different forms for singular or plural.

Quale libro vuoi?

Which book do you want?

Quale pazzo potrebbe crederti?

Which crazy man could believe you?

Quali film hai visto?

Which film did you watch?

  • quanto (-a, -i, -e), how many, how much: variable in genre and number, used with people or things.

Quanto costa?

How much does it cost?

Quante volte è venuto?

How many times has he come?

Quanti libri hai comprato?

How many books did you buy?

English – Italian questions

Here there are some English interrogative expressions and their corresponding Italian translations.


HOW:

Come va?

How are you?

Quanto costa?

How much does it cost?

WHAT:

Che dici?

What are you saying?

Che cosa è?

What is that?

WHO:

Chi è?

Who is she/he?

Chi canta per me?

Who sings for me?

WHY:

Perché sei triste?

Why are you sad?

Perché il mio cane è malato?

Why is my dog sick?

WHERE:

Dove vai?

Where are you going?

Dove voglio.

Where I want

Questions in Italian summary

  • Take care about the tone of the sentence.
  • With interrogative pronouns the subject is at the end of the sentence, while the verb is the second to last word.
  • means yes, NO means no
  • how in Italian is translated as come or quanto
  • what in Italian is translated as che cosa
  • who in Italian is translated as chi
  • why in Italian is translated as perché
  • where in Italian is translated as dove
  • dove and perché can also be used for the answers

For more on the use of Italian questions check out these lessons...

A presto!
Maria DiLorenzi
Rocket Italian


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