How to use “quello che”: Italian grammar lesson 183

Stefano

Italian language tutor, course author. MEng, MBA. Member of the International Association of Hyperpolyglots (HYPIA). After learning 12 languages, I can tell you that we all master languages by listening and mimicking. I couldn't find an app to recommend to my students, so I made my own one. With my method, you'll be speaking Italian from Lesson 1.

Summary

Unlock the nuances of the Italian word “quello che” and master the art of saying “what” like a native. Dive into the context-driven world of Italian translations with practical examples and a lyrical twist!

  • Context is Key: The Italian “quello che” can mean “what,” but it’s all about the context. Remember, it’s not a one-size-fits-all translation! 🌐
  • Literal vs. Natural: While “quello che” translates to “that which,” opt for “what” to sound more natural in English. Don’t get caught up in word-for-word translations! 📖
  • Music to Your Ears: Song lyrics can be a goldmine for learning. Fabrizio De André’s tunes are not just melodious but also a lesson in Italian language. 🎶
  • Examples Galore: Get your hands on as many examples as you can. They’re the secret sauce to understanding the use of “quello che” in everyday Italian. 🗣️
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Try using “quello che” in your own sentences. Practice with a friend or in front of a mirror to boost your confidence. 💬
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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?

Quello che meaning

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”.

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Now you understand why “what” could be translated as quello che.

What does quello che mean

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?

Quello che meaning Italian

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FAQs on How to use “quello che”: Italian grammar lesson 183

What is the meaning of "quello che"?

Literally it means "that which" but is more commonly translated as what.

Italian word of the day
contento
Example
Finalmente abbiamo finito! Sono proprio contento.
Finally we’re done! I’m really glad.
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