Relative pronouns who, that: Italian grammar lesson


Key Takeaways

Dive into the world of Italian grammar and master the art of weaving sentences together with relative clauses! Learn how to use che and cui to add depth and connection to your Italian conversations. 🇮🇹✨

  • Use che for simplicity: Stick with che when you need a one-size-fits-all relative pronoun. It’s your go-to for subjects or direct objects and never changes form. Easy peasy! 😎
  • Direct object example: When you spot a direct object like “la ragazza” in a sentence, link it up with che. “La ragazza che hai visto” translates to “The girl that you saw.” Seamless connections! 👌
  • Indirect object? No problem: Enter cui, the chameleon of pronouns. It pairs with prepositions to fit any indirect object scenario. “L’azienda per cui lavoro” means “The company I work for.” Adaptability for the win! 🌟
  • Prepositions matter: Match cui with the right preposition based on the verb. Talking about something? “Di cui” is your match. Working for someone? Go with “per cui.” It’s all about context! 🤓
  • Expressing possession: Get fancy with possession by using cui with an article. “Giulia, la cui sorella lavora con me” translates to “Giulia, whose sister works with me.” Show off those possessive skills! 💪
  • Agreement is key: Remember, when cui gets possessive, the article must agree with the object owned. “Quel cane, i cui padroni” means “That dog, whose owners.” Keep it grammatically stylish! 👗

Quick facts

What makes Italian relative pronouns "che" and "cui" unique?

"Che" and "cui" are invariable, meaning they never change form regardless of the subject or object they reference.

How is "che" used in Italian relative clauses?

"Che" replaces subjects or direct objects and translates to "that" or "who" in English, maintaining the same form.

Can you give an example of "che" as a subject?

Yes, in "Il cane che sta abbaiando," "che" replaces "il cane" (the dog that is barking).

How does "che" function as a direct object in a sentence?

In "La ragazza che hai visto," "che" replaces "la ragazza" (the girl that you saw).

What role does "cui" play in Italian relative clauses?

"Cui" indicates an indirect object and can be translated in various ways, depending on the preposition used.

How does "cui" integrate with prepositions in sentences?

"Cui" combines with prepositions like "di" or "per" to fit verbs such as "parlare di" (talk about) or "lavorare per" (work for).

Can "cui" express possession in Italian?

Yes, when preceded by an article, "cui" can denote possession, translating to "whose."

What's an example of "cui" indicating possession?

In "Giulia, la cui sorella lavora con me," "la cui" means "whose," referring to Giulia's sister.

Why must the article before "cui" agree with the possessed object?

The article must match the gender and number of the object in possession, ensuring grammatical correctness.

How does "cui" enhance sentence structure in Italian?

"Cui" allows for more complex and precise sentence constructions by clearly defining relationships and ownerships within clauses.

My Thoughts

What are relative clauses in Italian?

Ieri ho visto uno spettacolo. Lo spettacolo è stato incredibile!

Yesterday I watched a show. The show was incredible!

The two sentences above have one element in common: lo spettacolo (the show).

To connect them, we can use the relative pronoun che:

Lo spettacolo che ho visto ieri è stato incredibile!

The show that I watched yesterday was incredible!

In this lesson, we will have a look at two Italian invariable relative pronouns: che, and cui.

These are invariable in the sense that they only exist in this one form and never change.

How to use che as a relative pronoun in Italian?

We use the relative pronoun che in place of a subject or a direct object (thing or person).

In English, it can often be translated as that or who.

Remember, it never changes!

Il cane che sta abbaiando è di mio cugino.

The dog that is barking is my cousin’s.

Here che takes the place of a subject: il cane.

La ragazza che hai visto con Luca è mia sorella.

The girl that you saw with Luca is my sister.

Here, che takes the place of a direct object: la ragazza.

Practice with Quizlet

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

How to use cui in Italian?

By contrast, cui can have many different translations, as it indicates an indirect object.

Free Guide
How to Learn Languages Fast

The pronoun itself never changes, but it can take various prepositions:

Questo è il ristorante di cui ti ho parlato.

This is the restaurant that I talked to you about.

Here we use di cui because the verb is parlare di qualcosa (to talk about something.)

L’azienda per cui lavoro è chiusa per ferie.

The company I work for is closed for vacation.

Here we use per cui because the verb is lavorare per qualcuno (to work for someone).

We can also use the relative pronoun cui preceded by an article to join two related sentences to express a form of possession.

In this case, it can be translated as whose.

Giulia, la cui sorella lavora con me, ha la mia età.

Giulia, whose sister works with me, is my age.

Quel cane, i cui padroni sono Giorgio e Marta, da cucciolo era bellissimo.

That dog, whose owners are Giorgio and Marta, was very cute as a puppy.

Remember, when using this form, that the article has to agree with the object in possession!

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions

How do you use "cui" in Italian?

In Italian, the pronoun "cui" is particularly useful when it comes to expressing which or whom in a sentence that includes a preposition. This pronoun is often used in place of "che" or "chi" and can help to clarify the relationship between different elements in a sentence.

How do you use who in Italian?

The Italian relative pronoun "chi" literal means who. This pronoun is invariable and is utilized in both masculine and feminine singular forms. It is important to note that "chi" can only be used to refer to a person.

Italian word of the day
Hai la febbre! Sì, mi è venuta l’influenza.
You have a fever! Yes, I got influenza.
Follow me to fluency​

Create a free lifetime account to get access to all the free courses and other resources.

Leave a Reply

Try my courses for free​
[TheChamp-Login redirect_url=""]
Click to learn Italian words in the text

Click any highlighted Italian word to hear its pronunciation, see its translation, and ask the AI assistant to explain it.

clickable sentence
clickable sentence 2
How long to fluency?

Find out how long it will take you to master Italian!
Get on the right track in 3 minutes.

dolce vita logo

We're already friends!

Coming from Luca and Marina?
Here's a special deal for you!
Just tell me where I should send the coupon.

50% OFF
all language resources

We're already friends!

Coming from All Language Resources?
Here's a special deal for you!
Just tell me where I should send the coupon.

50% OFF
50% OFF

To receive free resources once a week together with my best offers, just tell me where to send everything. Opt out at any time.

Create a free lifetime account to get access to all the free lesson and other resources.