Qual vs. Cosa?

Do they not both mean 'what'? Can someone explain the difference to me? Thanks!

June 11, 2014


As aaronwoolley pointed out, in general, "cosa/che/che cosa" mean "what" and "qual(e)/i" means "which." They only really get tricky when you're dealing with the verb "essere," for which they're both usually translated as "what." With "essere" we use "cosa," "che" or "che cosa" to ask for something to be defined, i.e. asking what sort of thing (cosa) it is:

Cos'è un telefono? (What is a telephone?)

Che cos'è? (What is it?)

With "quale" (shortened to "qual" before "è"), we are asking for something to be identified, implying a choice between all the other similar things in the world:

Qual è il tuo numero di telefono? (What is your phone number? = Out of all the phone numbers, which one is yours?)

Qual è il loro professore preferito? (Who is their favorite teacher? = Out of all the teachers, which one is their favorite?)

June 11, 2014

nice explanation mmseiple.

i would only add for clarity that "Quale" is used for masculine and feminine singular , whilst "Quali" is used for masculine and feminine plural.

"Qual" is formed by dropping he "e" infront of any vowel

June 11, 2014

I know my post will be followed by one that is far more eloquent and more enlightened than I, but as a starting point, my understanding is as follows.

Cosa - what

When asking about a single event Such as - 1 ) Che cosa succede 2) cosa fai

Quale - Which

more appropiate for when there are a choice of 2 or more things.

1) delle due mucche, . Quale preferisci?" 2) Quale macchina e' tua?

June 11, 2014

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