Asking Simple Questions in Italian

You usually ask a question to start a conversation. Of course, you don't necessarily have to ask the well-known: "Nice weather today, isn't it?" You have lots of other possibilities for framing a question. A few simple key words for asking questions are as follows:

  • Chi? (kee) (Who?)
  • Che? (keh) (What?)
  • Che cosa? (keh koh-zah) (What?) (This is the preferred use.)
  • Dove? (doh-veh) (Where?)
  • Quando? (koo-ahn-doh) (When?)
  • Perché? (pehr-keh) (Why?)
  • Come? (koh-meh) (How?)
  • Quanto? (koo-ahn-toh) (How much?)
  • Quale? (koo-ah-leh) (Which?)

To be sure, these single words won't help you that much in starting a conversation. You may want to have the following practical examples up your sleeve when a chance for small talk arises:

  • Chi è? (kee eh) (Who's that?)
  • Scusi, che ore sono? (skoo-zee kee oh-reh soh-noh) (Excuse me, what time is it?)
  • Che cosa ha detto? (keh koh-zah ah deht-toh) (What did you say?) (formal)
  • Dov'è la stazione? (doh-veh lah sta-tsee-oh-neh) (Where is the station?)
  • Quando parte l'aereo? (koo-ahn-doh pahr-teh lah-eh-reh-oh) (When is the plane leaving?)
  • Perché va a Milano? (pehr-keh vah ah mee-lah-noh) (Why are you going to Milan?)
  • Com'è il tempo? (kohm-eh eel tehm-poh) (How is the weather?)
  • Quanto dura il volo? (koo-ahn-toh doo-rah eel voh-loh) (How long is the flight?)
  • Qual è l'autobus per il centro? (koo-ahl-eh lah-oo-toh-boos pehr eel chehn-troh) (Which is the bus to downtown?)

Here's a tiny, but practical, grammar hint. You know that little things in life can change the world. Although not as dramatic, a tiny little accent can change the meaning of a word. You may have already noticed the word è (eh) (he/she/it is) and its accent. This accent distinguishes this word from another little word, e (eh) (and), which looks the same but has another meaning. Needless to say, both of these words are used quite frequently.

è(eh) = he/she/it is

e (eh) = and

You may wonder how Italians make out the difference between the two sounds. Quite easily! You can see the accent in written communication; however, when speaking, the difference lies first in hearing the pronunciation — the è is slightly more open, as in hell — whereas the e sounds more like the e in gourmet. And second, when speaking, you don't need to differentiate between the two words because the context tells you which is which.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement

Inside Dummies.com

Dummies.com Sweepstakes

Win $500. Easy.