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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sparkyprais

Qualcuno vs qualcuna ?

Qualcuno or qualcuna I can't understand when you are supposed to use one rather than the other. They both mean somebody but in the pronoun lesson I can't seem to pick the correct one. Can someone please help me out?

August 2, 2017

4 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CivisRomanus

These are indefinite pronouns, and their correct use is indeed a bit tricky.

Qualcuno is masculine, qualcuna is feminine. They have no plural form.

They can take two meanings:

① 'someone, somebody'; in interrogative sentences, also 'anyone?', 'anybody?'

② 'some', 'a few'; in interrogative sentences, also 'any?' or 'anyone?'.

Which of the two meanings they take depends on the context of the sentence and on the construction.


Meaning ①

When qualcuno is used without any particular reference, it always means 'someone', 'somebody'. If the sentence is interrogative, it can also mean 'anyone?', 'anybody?'.
When it takes this meaning, the pronoun only refers to human beings:

  • qualcuno è uscito dalla stanza = someone has come out of the room

  • (loro) hanno invitato qualcuno = they invited somebody

  • (io) ho prestato la penna a qualcuno = I lent the pen to somebody

  • qualcuno ha preso le mie chiavi? = has somebody / anybody taken my keys?

  • (tu) hai incontrato qualcuno? = did you meet someone / anyone?

Since speaking of 'someone' or 'anyone' implies that we don't know (or we don't want to specify) whether the people to whom the pronoun refers are male or female, only the masculine form is used → indefinite gender.


Meaning ②

Qualcuno can also mean 'some', 'a few'; and in interrogative sentences also 'any?' or 'anyone?'.
In order to take this meaning, qualcuno must clearly refer to a plural noun or pronoun.
A common construction is obtained by adding the preposition di ('of') + plural noun or pronoun.
In this construction, di is always used as an articulated preposition before nouns (e.g. dei, degli, delle), while it remains in simple form before personal pronouns and demonstratives.
If the noun or pronoun that qualcuno refers to is feminine, qualcuna is used.
When it takes this meaning, the pronoun can refer to any kind of noun (human beings, animals, objects, abstract concepts, anything else):

  • qualcuno di noi = some / a few of us

  • qualcuna di voi = some / a few of you [feminine]

  • qualcuno di loro = some / a few of them

  • qualcuna di queste = some / a few of these (ones) [feminine]

  • qualcuno di quelli = some / a few of those (ones)

  • qualcuna di queste matite = some of these pencils

  • qualcuno degli ospiti = some of the guests

  • qualcuna delle pagine = some of the pages

  • qualcuno dei miei vicini = some of my neighbours

  • qualcuna delle sue amiche = some of his/her friends [feminine]

When qualcuno / qualcuna take this meaning, they can be used either as the subject of the sentence, or as the object (direct/indirect):

  • qualcuno di quei turisti viene dalla Germania = some of those tourists come from Germany

  • ho incontrato qualcuno di quei turisti in aeroporto = I met some of those tourists at the airport

Beware that qualcuno / qualcuna remain singular, despite the noun or pronoun that stands after di is always plural, and despite the English translation as 'some' might suggest a plural.
So when qualcuno / qualcuna are the subject of the sentence, the verb must be used in singular form, and any adjective and inflectable past participle that refers to the pronoun must take the singular form, as well:

  • qualcuna delle sue opere è molto interessante = some of his/her works are very interesting  (not sono molto interessanti)

  • qualcuno dei miei amici è stato a Parigi = some of my friends have been to Paris  (not sono stati a Parigi)

  • qualcuna delle squadre ha venduto i suoi giocatori migliori = some of the teams sold their best players  (not hanno venduto i loro giocatori migliori)

In interrogative sentences, qualcuno / qualcuna usually take the meaning of 'any (of...)?', or 'anyone (of...)?'

  • qualcuna delle tue valigie è pesante = some of your suitcases are heavy

  • qualcuna delle tue valigie è pesante? = are any of your suitcases heavy?

  • qualcuno di questi posti è libero? = are any of these seats free?

  • qualcuna di voi ha superato l'esame? = has anyone / have any of you [fem.] passed the test?

If the noun to which qualcuno / qualcuna refers is clearly understood, having been previously mentioned, or is the topic of the conversation, di + noun/pronoun can be omitted:

(speaking of pens on the table → penne, feminine)

  • qualcuna è nera e qualcuna è rossa = some (of them) are black and some are red

(pointing at books → libri, masculine)

  • qualcuno non è mio = some (of them) are not mine

In interrogative form:

(pointing at magazines → riviste, feminine)

  • qualcuna è interessante? = are any (of them) interesting?

With this elliptical (i.e. 'shortened') construction, qualcuno / qualcuna can only be the subject of the sentence.
Most of all, it is important that the noun which qualcuno / qualcuna stands for is clearly understood; otherwise the pronoun would take a different meaning (i.e. ① 'someone' or 'anyone?'), and the sentence would no longer make sense, or would mean something else.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sparkyprais

Thanks so much for a very thorough explanation. This really helps.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CivisRomanus

You are welcome.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gmads.ie

While English nouns are not gender-differenciated (they are all neuter), and they can only be singular or plural (dog, dogs), in romance languages like Italian and Spanish, nouns not only have a number but also a gender. So you then can have:

il gatto (a male cat), la gatta (a female cat), i gatti (male cats) and le gatte (female cats).

This all just means that you use qualcuno for masculine and qualcuna for feminine:

  • Qualcuno è alla porta (someone --a man-- is at the door)

  • Qualcuna ha le scarpe nuove (talking to a girl/woman, "someone has new shoes")

  • Ho incontrato qualcuno nel ristorante (I met someone --a man-- in the restaurant)

  • Ho incontrato qualcuna nel ristorante (I met someone --a woman-- in the restaurant)

The same goes for altro, altra, altri, altre:

  • Chi è l'altra? (who is the other one --referring to a woman)

  • Altri sono meno attenti (others --all men or a group with at least one man-- are less careful)

  • Altre non sono come te (others --all women-- are not like you)

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