How to say what in Italian
In all languages, there are certain words that can be translated in very different ways, especially when it comes to short words.
Think of the Italian word in which could be translated as in, to, into, at and there are probably more options depending on the context.
The same goes for saying “what” in Italian. We can say che, cosa, che cosa, ciò, quello, and quello che.
Have a look at the example below to understand how we can translate quello che as “what”:
Ricordi quello che ti ha detto?
Do you remember what she said?
What is the meaning of quello che?
Quello che literally means “that which”.
Have a look at the lyrics of a song composed by the great Fabrizio De André which, by the way, we recommend listening to:
Quello che non ho è una camicia bianca.
Quello che non ho è un segreto in banca.
Quello che non ho sono le tue pistole
per conquistarmi il cielo, per guadagnarmi il sole.
We could translate them literally as:
That which I do not have is a white shirt.
That which I do not have is a secret in the bank.
That which I do not have are your guns
to conquer the sky, to earn the sun.
But of course it sounds better if instead of that which, we say “what”.
Now you understand why “what” could be translated as quello che.
Quello che: examples
Let’s have a look at some more examples:
Non posso perdonarlo per quello che ha fatto.
I cannot forgive him for what he did.
Quello che ti ha detto Marco non è vero.
What Marco told you isn’t true.
Capisco quello che mi stai dicendo.
I understand what you’re saying.
Mi puoi dire quello che mi volevi dire?
Can you tell me what you wanted to tell me?
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