How to say “which” in Italian

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How to use quale in Italian
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How to say “which” in Italian

In this post, you’re going to learn how to say “which” in Italian.

Like in English, in Italian the equivalent of “which” has two uses.

It can either be a question word or a relative pronoun (a word that is used to refer to a noun previously mentioned).

Question word:

Quale città Italiana preferisci?

Which Italian city do you prefer?

Relative pronoun:

Il film il quale ho visto mi è piactiuto tanto.

I liked a lot the movie which I saw.

Today we’re going to focus on the use of quale and quali as relative pronouns.

Let’s get started!

How to say which in Italian

What does “quale” mean?

As we already said, quale means “which”. However, it can also mean “who”.

If we use quale as a relative pronoun, we’re referring to something or someone we just mentioned.

Also, quale is invariable for gender, which means it stays the same for feminine and masculine words.

However, it changes depending on the number of words it refers to.

In fact, quale is singular and quali is plural. So, basically, quale refers to one thing, person, or idea and quali to more than one.

Thus, we only have these two options: quale or quali.

Sometimes, quale and quali simply replace che.

We could say:

Ho incontrato un ragazzo che mi ha aiutato a portare le cose.

I bumped into a guy who helped me carry my stuff.

This option is definitely more common.

But we could also say:

Ho incontrato un ragazzo il quale mi ha aiutato a portare le cose.

I bumped into a guy who helped me carry my stuff.

This option is not too common. You’ll find it mostly in written texts.

What does quale mean

When to use “quale” in Italian?

Have a look at the sentences below:

Ho letto gli articoli dei quali mi avevi parlato.

I read the articles about which you talked.
= I read the articles you talked about.

La ragazza con la quale sei uscito è la mia ex.

The girl with whom you went out is my ex.
= The girl you went out with is my ex.

As you can see in the examples we just saw, we basically use quale and quali when there’s a preposition referring to “which” or “whom”.

Prepositions are those tiny words like to, of, for, with, and in.

These are the Italian prepositions:

  • a, di, per, con, da, in, su, tra, fra

Let’s read about how to use quale.

what does quali mean in Italian

Relative pronoun “quale”: structure

Here’s the structure:

  • preposition + article + quale or quali
  • Example : con + il + quale (literally: with + the + which)

The article will change depending on the gender and number of the word it’s referring to (i.e.: “la ragazza con la quale” or “i libri per i quali”).

Some prepositions, like a, di, da, nel, and su, become articulated, which means the articles are added to the prepositions, as you can see below:

  • a: al, alla, all’, ai, alle
  • di: del, della, dell’, dei, delgi, delle
  • da: dal, dalla, dall’, dai, dagli, dalle
  • nel: nel, nella, nell’, nei, negli, nelle
  • su: sul, sulla, sull’, sui, sugli, sulle
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So, we can say things like: sulle quali (about which), dei quali (about which), per la quale (for which), etc.

what does quali mean

What does “cui” mean?

Cui is basically a synonym of quale and quali.

However, cui is simpler to use as it doesn’t change depending on the number (and gender) of what it’s referring to.

It’s always cui.

Also, we don’t need an article right before cui. The structure is always just: preposition + cui

So, basically, if you still don’t feel comfortable using quale or quali, just use cui.

We can either say:

Io ho una sorella alla quale voglio bene.

I have a sister who I love.

Or:

Io ho una sorella a cui voglio bene.

I have a sister who I love.

what does quale mean in Italian

Practice with Quizlet

Here's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.

Examples with “quale” and “quali”

Let’s now have a look at some examples with quale and quali preceded by a preposition and an article.

You will see the translations into English sound odd so, we’ll give you a more appropriate translation for each example:

I bambini con i quali stavo giocando sono i miei cugini.

The children with whom I was playing are my cousins.
= The children I was playing with are my cousins.

Sono delle persone sulle quali si può contare.

They’re people on which you can count.
= They’re people you can count on.

Voglio una casa dalla quale poter vedere il mare.

I want a house from which I can see the sea.
=I want a house I can see the sea from.

E’ il terzo concorso al quale partecipo.

It’s the third contest to which I participate.
= It’s the third contest I participate in.

Ho perso la scatola nella quale avevo messo i documenti.

I lost the box in which I had put the documents.
= I lost the box I had put the documents in.

cui che quale difference

Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!

Eleonora

I’m originally from Argentina but grew up in Italy, so I’m bilingual. I love languages, which is why I studied French and Linguistics in London. I’m a grammar nerd and I love finding out about the meaning of words.

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