What does cioè mean?
In today’s lesson, you’re going to learn how to express yourself better, that is to say, more clearly.
We’re going to learn how to use a very useful and extremely common word: cioè.
Cioè is a combination of the pronoun ciò (this, that) + è (is), meaning “that is”.
We use cioè mainly in two cases:
- to give further information or clarify a statement;
- to correct something we have just said.
But, what does cioè mean? Here are some possible translations:
- that is (to say)
- in other words
- I mean
Let’s now have a look at some concrete examples. We’ll give two examples for each of the two uses we mentioned above:
To give further information or clarify a statement:
Ho comprato un sacco di cose, cioè delle scarpe, una maglia, uno zaino e un vestito.
I bought many things, that is some sneakers, a t-shirt, a backpack, and a dress.
Lei è Elisabetta, cioè la mia migliore amica.
This is Elisabetta, that is my best friend.
To correct something we have just said:
Sono andata a teatro con Marta, cioè con Maria.
I went to the theater with Marta, I mean, with Maria.
Ho visto tutti i suoi film, cioè quasi tutti.
I watched all of her movies, I mean, almost all of them.
Cioè as a question
Interestingly, cioè can also be used on its own as a question. Very independent, right?
In this case, it would mean something like “which means?” or “what do you mean?”
We use it as a question when someone hasn’t been very clear and we need further explanation.
Have a look at the examples below:
A: Mi ha detto delle belle cose.
A: Che sono una persona speciale e importante.
A: She told me nice things.
B: What do you mean?
A: That I’m a special and important person.
Cioè as a filler
Cioè is also an overused word, pretty much like “like” or “literally”, in English.
It’s a filler, namely, a word that we use when we need to take the time to think about what we want to say next.
For some people, it has even become an oral tic. They use it in their discourse spontaneously even if they don’t need it.
Here’s an example:
Mi piace ballare ma… cioè non mi piace cantare.
I like to dance but… like, I don’t like to sing.
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