How to say “that”, “which”, “who”: Italian grammar lesson 145


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! 👗

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 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.

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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!

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 voglia di fare una passeggiata?
Do you feel like going for a walk?
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