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"Che cos'è?"

Translation:What is it?

May 30, 2013

87 Comments


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

What is the difference between ''cos'è'' and ''che cos'è?''


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f.formica
Mod
  • 2330

"Che cos'è?" is the proper form, as "che" means "what", and "cosa" (thing) is just a reinforcement. "Cos'è?" is the popular shortening, that gets rid of the pronoun and keeps the reinforcement; "che è?" is rarely used, probably because of the difficulty of spelling both e's, and that's why some Italian dialects put a fictitious "di" in the middle ("che d'è?").


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

Thank you so much for this explanation. I've been struggling to understand if che cos'è and cos'è have the same meaning. So in other words, the proper form of "cos'è una donna" is "che cos'è una donna". They're not different questions. Thanks :)


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

I don't know why but i laughed when I read "fictitious di." Thanks for all your help, you've helped me a lot.


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

Che cos'è? - literally, what thing is?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LauraE.Dav

yes i think thats the literal translation but Italian doesn't translate the words in order to English. Syntax is very different in romance languages.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tu.8zPhLaRicPp2s

I think it means what is it


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cavman144

yeah, it does.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/a-muktar

Essere o non essere, questo è la domanda.


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

Would be questA è la domanda. Yet most commonly people say essere o non essere: questo è il problema.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kneth14

Isn't it "la problema"?


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

Well it would look so, but this is a trap. All the nouns ending in -ma that corrispond to an English -em(e), -m or -ma (problema, tema - problem, theme; diaframma = diaphragm; sintagma = syntagma) come from the Ancient Greek -μα (pron. ma) neuter suffix and have become masculine in Italian.

There are some (very rare) exceptions like flemma (phlegm, but it is feminine) and some other nouns that end in -ma but do not come from Greek words so they are regularly feminine (mamma, somma etc.).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LauraE.Dav

like in Spanish, words with Greek origins often have feminine articles. the same is true for the diagram (il diagramma) and the planet (il pianeta). it's a short list so it's best to just memorize them.


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

Yeah, problema is masculine in Spanish as well, so it's easy to remember.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/a-muktar

Isn't it "quest'è"?


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

Quest' is the form of the demonstrative adjective that goes before nouns starting with a vowel (as in this animal = quest'animale). Questa/o is the demonstrative pronoun (that is substitutes [pro] a noun, as in this [one] is the animal = questo è l'animale) which never elides before words starting in a vowel.

As a rule of thumb if the demonstrative is referring to the following word it elides, otherwise it doesn't.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/a-muktar

Thank you for the swift, early response mate :)


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

Rather than speaking of ‘adjective’, we should call ‘questo, questa, etc.’ determiners. Traditional grammar calls them ‘adjectives’ but linguists have reconsidered the question.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MariePinto08

So........In which context would I use "Che cos'e?" as opposed to "Cos'e?". I think that this is what is confusing me the most.


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

I think that was answered above: "Che cos'è?" being more literary or formal, and "Cos'è?" being more vernacular and informal, toy understanding.


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

‘Cos’è?’ is a short form of ‘Che cos’è?’ I don’t see why it seems so complicated.


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

Could this also mean "what's wrong," idiomatically?


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

No, there is no word "wrong" in the Italian


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Manuel761

I'm looking for someone to help me in english and I'll help him in italian. I'm italian. If you are interesting write me! :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Teresa116897

Hi Manuel, not sure how long ago you wrote this (today is 5/6/19) but in your last sentence you would say, "If you are interestED...." (rather than interestING). I'd be happy to help with your English where possible :-)


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

isn't cos'è short for cosa è? why would cosa è be wrong?


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

It's a contraction because two vowels together does not sound as nice. Basically, it's just not said that way but the meaning is the same.


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

Is 'che cos'è ?' not also generally used with a meaning like 'What's going on?'


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

Erm not really. That would be che c'è ou che succede etc.


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

They should accept "what thing is it?", shouldn't they?


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

Any difference between "Cosa è" and "Cos'è"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tomas.Janik

Would 'What is the matter?' be a possible translation?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nic37750

I also chose "what's the matter", which seems a proper translation to me, but unfortunately it wasn't accepted...


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

I just translated "Che cos'è?" as What is he? and just missed a heart :/ ... why is not a valid translation? doesn't make sense? ps. spanish is my native language :)


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

As some people have said, "Che cos'è" is asking "What thing is it?". To say "What is he" would be "Che cos'è lui?". Hope this is a little clearer.


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

This is wrong. Che cosa means what, not what thing.


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

It's right: could mean what is he/she/it depending on the context. Thing is saying what is he is a bit weird in general. Maybe asking for a profession, but still.

Anyway che cosa means what, not what thing.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/microphone83

From what I gather cosa also has a meaning of thing. So this would sort of translate to "what thing is?" now... in proper english it is not correct to call a person "thing". thus, the only option would be to call a thing a it as opposed to calling the thing a he or she.


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

I also chose this translation and do not know why it is wrong


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

"Cosa" en italiano es el mismo como "cosa" en español. Así que "Che cos'è?" quiere decir "¿Qué cosa es?" Ojalá que le ayude. :)


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

This is wrong. Che cosa means what not what thing


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

Yes, but "cosa" is mostly used as "what" in Italian, it's a synonym of "che", in this context is not asking about a thing.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hasanali19

I think if we want to ask "what is he?" or "what is she?" then we would say "che lui è?" and "che lei è?", respectifully.


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

I am not Italian, but I think that sounds strange... I'd go for : Cosa è lui / lei ? or che cosa è lui/lei?


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

I put "and what is it?" as the translation and got it wrong...but duolingo adds "and" as a translation for che?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lalo7696

Whats the difference between Cosa and Che and which one do you use properly? I mean doesnt Cosa and Che mean What?


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

Che is the interrogative pronoun 'what'. cos' comes from 'una cosa' a thing. è = is So literally you might translate 'What thing is it?' Duolingo will probably not accept it :) So stick to What is it?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MatthewEll15

they both mean what, why?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dylan930338

the translation said what what


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DanteB0

when you hover over both "Che" and "cos'è" the top words litteraly translate to "what what" lol


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sharka695

These comments are leaving me with two conflicting interpretations of the phrase "Che cos'è?"

According to some commentors, in this sentence, "che" means "what" and "cosa" means "what", and so the sentence translates to "What is it?"

According to other commenters, in this sentence "che" means "what" and "cosa" means "thing", and so the sentence translates to "What thing is it?"

Would it be possible for someone with a solid understanding of Italian grammar to break the sentence down into its grammatical components?

As far as I can tell, the grammatical structure of the sentence would either be broken down as:

'Che (what, pronoun, subject), cos[a] (what, pronoun, subject [augmentative?]), è (is [it], verb, predicate)'

or as

'Che (what, pronoun, subject), cos[a] (thing, noun, direct object), è (is [it], verb, predicate)'.

Thanks in advance!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Barry743067

Here's my two-cents' worth from a native English speaker who is an advanced learner of Italian and who has also spent a good deal of time in Italy. If a native speaker finds my comments incorrect, please don't hesitate to reply and correct me. Regarding Che cos'e: Italians are typically very economical in the way they express things in the spoken language; however, at the same time, there's a rhythm to Italian that almost demands that "extra" words be inserted into a sentence in order to maintain a natural rhythm and intonation. A good example is the combining of the 2nd person singular of avere, which is "hai" and placing in front of the verb form the direct object "lo" (for "it"). So, for example, if you wanted to ask an Italian "Do you have it?" I've never heard anyone in Italy look at another person and say "L'hai?" The correct question from my experience is "ce l'hai?" Some may disagree with me, but the word "ce" in this question doesn't really mean anything, but it allows the language to sound as it should. Back to "che" and "cosa," both of which mean "what?" and both of which are often used together, as in "Cosa fai?" ("What are you doing?") or "Che cosa fai?" (also "What are you doing?").


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Robert590994

Please follow me!(i am cool)


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

I really cannot hear Che in this, is it me? :-)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/isabellahockey7

it technically translates into what what is?????


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

It technically translates into "What thing is [it]?". "cosa" means "thing"; using "cosa" to mean "what" is only a figurative sense.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Diougnes2

"Che" = And, what, that

Am I tottaly wrong, guys?

My answer was: "And what is it", but Duo punished me hardly. Again: Am I tottaly wrong?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f.formica
Mod
  • 2330

Short answer: yes.

Long answer: just because a word has more than one meaning doesn't mean you can use any of them interchangeably. Just think of the English "bow" (a weapon, a gesture and the front of a ship): greeting with a bow doesn't mean shooting you with an arrow (hopefully). "Che" / "che cosa" / "cosa" only mean "what" in questions; "che" can mean "who", "which" and "that" as a relative pronoun, and a bunch of other things (including "and") when correlating with other words.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Diougnes2

Your both short and long answers worth more than one thousand lingots. Grazie.


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

Seriously man, wonderful explanation f.formica


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

thank you so much for this!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CesarS3

Why not...what thing is it?


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

Che cosa means what. So this means what is it


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hasanali19

You may ask: "what is that thing?" or "what is it?". That is because: (Che) means (what), (Cosa) means (thing) and (È) means (is).


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

how come earlier it was using "cosa" to mean what, as in "cosa leggi" or something?


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

I only wrote what is it because I happened to KNOW


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

Anche "che cosa è " è corretto, è la forma estesa. "Che cos'è" è la forma contratta.


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

if 'Che' could mean 'and' why couldn't it be translated as 'And what is it?' ?


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

i can think of example where che means and..it's just usally ether what or that.. if there's a question mark its usually 'what'.


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

thanks. maybe it's 'sia .. che ..' that confused me. but that 'and' is rather exception, huh? (even google translator doesn't know 'and'. it translates 'Io mangio sia verdura che carne' as 'I eat both vegetables than meat') :-O


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

wow i said ' i can think of'... i meant to say i can't think of an example. yeah che=and is an exception. actually, che doesn't really mean 'and' in the 'sia-che' phrase, it's just that in the english version of sia-che which is for example 'both good and bad' (sia bello che brutto) there's no other way to translate it so they say that che=and..but the real translation of sia-che is more like 'however much good (sia bello) - that much bad' (che brutto)..see here che=that. like 'however much of this one thing just as much of that other thing'.. 'sia questa cosa che quella cosa' in these translations 'che' doesn't mean 'and' but rather 'just as much' or 'equally to that' 'that too'... xD


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

thanks! it's good to get one more strange thing (not quite same as in langs I know) in Italian. :-)


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

What is this... Sentence?


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

I'm far too English. I translated this as "What, what?"


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

Why "Whats up" don't work isn't it the same meaning?


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

I put in "what is it". Itells me im wrong and says the answer is "what is it).???


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

Im just totally confused with this


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Storm896548

where is the "he" part because it never showed up and i got it wrong because of that


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Barry743067

Under the strength skills tab, the question "Che cos'è" comes up, to which I respond "What is it?" and get a "You are correct" response. Then when the phrase "What is it" comes up in English and I translate it as Che cos'è, I always get the response wrong because it says that the correct response is "Che cosa è?" Can't figure it out.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sofie544074

Can i drop these writting


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lynn166419

Che cosa is the most common way to say it.

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