How to say “how”: Italian grammar lesson

Lesson 116

Key Takeaways

Readers will learn how to use the Italian word come to mean both “how” and “like” in various contexts.

  • Come translates to how in questions like Come ti chiami? (What’s your name?) and Come va? (How’s it going?).
  • It can also be used inside a sentence to describe how something is done, e.g., Mi ha spiegato come funziona (She explained to me how it works).
  • Come can mean like in sentences such as Vorrei sapere ballare come te (I’d like to be able to dance like you).
  • Context helps determine whether come means how or like.

Quick facts

What does "come" mean in Italian?

In Italian, "come" primarily translates to "how," often used in direct questions.

How can "come" be used in common phrases?

Phrases like "Come ti chiami?" (What's your name?) and "Come va?" (How's it going?) frequently use "come."

Can "come" be used within sentences?

Yes, "come" can be used in sentences, e.g., "Mi ha spiegato come funziona" (She explained how it works).

What is an example of "come" in a question about feelings?

"Come vi sentite?" translates to "How are you feeling?"

Can "come" mean something other than "how"?

Yes, "come" can also mean "like," depending on the context.

How can context determine the meaning of "come"?

Context reveals its meaning, e.g., "Vorrei sapere ballare come te" means "I’d like to be able to dance like you."

What's a non-question use of "come" meaning "how"?

"Non mi hai detto come sono i tuoi nuovi colleghi" means "You didn't tell me how your new colleagues are."

How can "come" be used to describe similarity?

"Parli proprio come la mia migliore amica" means "You speak exactly like my best friend," showing similarity.

What's a common Italian phrase to ask for someone's name?

"Come ti chiami?" is the phrase used to ask "What's your name?"

How do you ask about someone's coffee preference in Italian?

The question "Come vuoi il caffè?" translates to "How do you want your coffee?"

Audio images

Come hai conosciuto Maria?
Come si fa il tiramisù?
Come sono andate le vacanze?




Come stai?

How are you?

Come si dice in italiano?

How do you say it in Italian?

Come funziona?

How does it work?

Come posso aiutarti?

How can I help you?

Come sei arrivato qui?

How did you get here?

My Thoughts

What does come mean in Italian?

Come can be translated into English as how. You’ve probably heard this word many times because it is one of the ways to ask a direct question. 

Here are some of the most common set phrases:

Come ti chiami?

What’s your name?

Come va?

How’s it going?

Come state?

How are you?

Come hai conosciuto Maria?

Come: examples

Let’s have a look at come in questions:

Come vuoi il caffe?

How do you want your coffee?

Come vi sentite?

How are you feeling?

Come avete fatto?

How did you do it?

We can also use come inside a sentence, even if it’s not a question if we’re still referring to how.

Look at the examples below:

Non mi hai detto come sono i tuoi nuovi colleghi.

You didn’t tell me how your new colleagues are.

Mi ha spiegato come funziona.

She explained to me how it works.

Come si fa il tiramisù?

Come sono andate le vacanze?

Can come mean like?

Come can also mean like and is used in a different way, so make sure you don’t confuse these two meanings.

Free Guide
How to Learn Languages Fast

You will know when come means how and when it means like from the context.

Here are some examples:

Vorrei sapere ballare come te.

I’d like to be able to dance like you.

Parli proprio come la mia migliore amica.

You speak exactly like my best friend.

Learn more about ormai in Italian.

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions


What is the meaning of "come"?

"Come" means how in English when used to ask questions.

Does "come" can mean like?

"Come" can also mean like. You will know when it means like from the context of the sentence.

Italian word of the day
Dalla crisi, molte aziende hanno chiuso.
Because of the financial crisis, many companies shut down.
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