"Qual è il vostro cognome?"

Translation:What is your surname?

April 7, 2013

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I have been told that when you define with a later word what you are asking "what" about, you use Qual rather than Cosa or Che. In this question "surname/cognome" is stated so Qual is used. I hope that makes sense. It seems to apply in the Italian I read.


I don't quite understand. What do you mean by, "define with a later word what you're asking about?" Do you mean the possessive pronoun attached to "cognome"?


Then why did we get "quale balena" for which whale? Quale was defined with a later word, (balena) in fact most times you ask "which" you must use a word to define which "what" you are asking about. Which house, which sandwich......... No? When does which become what?


Before a noun, cosa and quale function pretty much like what and which. It's just before é that it becomes different. Cos'è is asking for a definition. When you are asking for a choice among options, whether known or unknown, with é, you use qual è.

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"Qual" is a pronoun.
"Quale/quali" is an adjective.

Qual è la tua balena?
Quale balena è la tua?


Is vostro plural? If so why is surname not plural too? (in English for asking a question to lots of people you'd say 'what are your surnames?')


I think you are thinking of the people being asked this question... vostro is from voi... plural 'your' (as siebolt clarified for you).

I suppose you could ask two siblings this question, for example.


Asking two siblings this question was the use case I had in mind.


vostro: masc. sing; vostra: fem. sing; vostri: masc. plural; vostre: fem plural. Surname is singular, cognome is singular, vostro cognome is singular. Yes in English "names" is common in these situations, but in Italian not, certainly when you ask siblings for their surname..


Thanks. Now another question... how is la vostra translated into English? (I thought masculine sing . was il tuo)


vostro/a/i/e/ is "you, plural", "you, singular = tuo"


Vostro is for a plural you, but it agrees in gender and number with the noun it modifies, not the subject. If this were addressed to siblings having the same name, it would be singular. If you were talking to a group with different last names, it would be vostri cognomi. It wouldn't likely be phrased this way unless they were supposed to write it or something, however. You wouldn't want everyone responding with different names at the same time.


If you are talking to a group of family members who share the same last name... use the possesive of you (plural), but a single last name. If you were talking to a group of people from different families who did not share the same last name, you would use "vostri cognomi" (what are your last names?)


I wrote this: ''Qual'è il vostro cognome?'' and it was marked wrong. Why?


it only works with dov'è and cos'è :)


'Qual è' doesn't have an apostrophe


Because 'cognome' is masculine, and 'quale' is variable to gender, being a pronoun here. I think. (Some people are commenting on the italian -> english question. Not us.)


Ah it's like the Latin cognomen


Second person plural so it should be what are your surnames


Possessives link two entities, so they have a two-way agreement:

Agreement with the owner/possessor

  • person (1st, 2nd, 3rd)
  • number (singular, plural)

Agreement with the object/possession

  • gender (masculine, feminine)
  • number (singular, plural)

For example

  • i tuoi, le tue (second person singular owner with plural object)
  • il vostro, la vostra (second person plural owner with singular object)


Wouldn't this be 'which is your last name?'


You could interpret is as asking which, out of a multitude of possible surnames, is YOUR surname. Thinking of it like that (though obviously not expressing it like that in English) helps me to remember to use "qual" as opposed to "cosa" in these type of questions. Bazza 9 explained it above.


I used which and it was marked correct.


'Qual' is not in my dictionary. Only 'quale'. Except one example, tagged 'fraseologia'. 'Per la qual cosa.' Idiomatic. What gives? Adjective, pronoun or adverb? Pronoun and therefore variable like an adjective!


Would "qual e il tuo cognome" work?


Yes if you put è instead of e


I also thought of Vostro as plural so used the plural verb "are" not singular "is". This is confusing.

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The question is not about y'all. It's about a thing that belongs to y'all.


could it be cos 'e, instead of qual e ?


No, they aren't quite the same even though they both translate to "what". Cosa/che cosa/che usually ask, "what thing" asking to define a thing. Qual è/quale/quali usually is asking "which". Which of all the possibilities of names is yours?

This link has a decent explanation: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/3320936?comment_id=3323103


the last name is the family name

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Yes. They are both two terms for the same thing.


Can someone please explain to me why: "what's your last name" would need considered incorrect by Duolingo, with Duo correcting my translation to: "what's your surname"?! I do believe that last name & surname are just different ways of saying the same thing, and Duo has accepted "last name" as a substitute for the "surname" in previous translations, or am I wrong?

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Each prompt has its own database of answers, which the volunteer course contributors manually curate. There are bound to be oversights and omissions. If your answer is marked wrong, double-check it for typos and other errors, then flag it and report "My answer should be accepted."


it can't be just a coincidence. the first time I have to say something is always marked wrong. Sometimes really easy, short phrases. subsequantly, I am rarely marked wrong, even when I myself feel I should be.


Not possible to hear the ' il ' in il vostro for the listening.

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