Unità 6 – Grammatica

Interrogative words


Chi vuole un caffè? (Who wants a coffee?)

Quanti studenti ci sono in classe? (How many students are there in class?)

Quante penne hai nello zaino? (How many pens do you have in your backpack?)


Like in English, in Italian there are specific words – interrogatives – used to formulate questions. Some of them (such as chi) never change. Others, such as quanto, change depending on the gender and number of the noun they refer to.


Common interrogative words:

Chi who
Cosa / che cosa / che what
Come how
Perché why
Dove where
Quando when
Quale which
Quanto how much / how many

Che cosa, cosa, and che can be used interchangeably, and they all mean “what”. Cosa is used more frequently in the north of Italy, while che is used more frequently in the South.

Quale and Come drop the final “e” when they are followed by a word starting with a vowel. Note that come>com’ takes on the apostrophe, while quale > qual does not

Com’è l’insalata? Ti piace? (How is the salad? Do you like it?)

Qual è il tuo cibo preferito? (What’s your favorite food?)

Che, quale, quanto can also be used as adjectives in combination with nouns. In this case, quale and quanto change depending on the gender and number of the noun they accompany:

singolare plurale singolare plurale
quale / qual quali quanto quanti
quanta quante

Note that quale behaves like a type 2 adjective (cf. felice), while quanto behaves like a first type adjective (cf. contento)

Remember that quale and quanto change only when they are associated with nouns:

Quanto costa? (How much is it?)

Quanta pasta vuoi? (How much pasta do you want?)

Volere, dovere, potere


Voglio andare in vacanza. (I want to go on vacation)

Salvo e Ahmed non possono venire alla festa. (Salvo and Ahmed cannot come to the party)

Charlie e io dobbiamo studiare. (Charlie and I must study)


We use the verbs volere, potere, dovere to talk about what we want, can, and must do. The conjugation of these verbs is irregular, and they are always followed by a verb in the infinitive form.


Volere, dovere and potere are irregular verbs in -ere:

volere (want) dovere (must) potere (can)
io voglio devo posso
tu vuoi devi puoi
lei/lui/Lei vuole deve può
noi vogliamo dobbiamo possiamo
voi volete dovete potete
loro vogliono devono possono

Remember that dovere and potere are always followed by a verb in the infinitive form.

Volere can be followed by a verb (in the infinitive form!) or by a noun:

Voglio studiare l’italiano. (I want to study Italian)

Voglio quel gelato! (I want that ice cream!)

Irregular verbs in -ire


Maria esce con Martha. (Maria goes out with Martha)

I genitori dicono ad Alessio: “Ciao! A presto!” (His parents tell Alessio : “Ciao! See you soon!”)


Many verbs ending in -ire and -ere are irregular. Often, their endings follow the normal conjugation of verbs in -ere and -ire, but their roots change.


Remember the conjugation of these verbs in -ire:

uscire (to exit) dire (to say) venire (to come) bere (to drink)
io esco dico vengo bevo
tu esci dici vieni bevi
lei/lui/Lei esce dice viene beve
noi usciamo diciamo veniamo beviamo
voi uscite dite venite bevete
loro escono dicono vengono bevono

Dire is normally followed by the preposition a + noun, indicating the person to whom the communication is directed:

Felicity dice a Carla: “Ti amo!” (Felicity says to Carla: “I love you!”)

Uscire is normally followed by “da” when it indicates the physical movement of exiting a space.
Uscire can also be used in combination with “con” to mean “to go out with”:

Il gatto esce dalla finestra. (The cat comes out of the window)

Giuliano esce con Marco. (Giuliano goes out with Marco)

Venire can be followed by “da” to indicate the origin of the movement – we have already encountered this form in Unit 1!

La professoressa viene da Vicenza. (The professor comes from Vicenza)



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Voci: Corso elementare di lingua e culture italiane - Volume I by Daria Bozzato, Chiara Benetollo, and Metello Mugnai is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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