"Che cos'è?"

Translation:What is it?

May 30, 2013

This discussion is locked.


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


"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?").


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 :)


hi i think che means that and cose means what. So it means what is that?


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


In romanian we only have "Ce", and we indeed say "Ce e" or "Ce este". Italain doesnt have a longer form for "è", right?


no, è is used for singular 3rd person (he/she/it)


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


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.


I think it means what is it


yeah, it does.


Thank you for asking the same question I had. It is reassuring that others are having the same issues I am having, but some explanations are TMI for this feeble 72 year old brain!


Essere o non essere, questo è la domanda.


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


Isn't it "la problema"?


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.).


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.


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


I came here reading about Che cos'e but started reading the comments and when I read yours it reminded me of a short story by David Sedaris in which he is trying to remember feminine and masculine articles in French. It's hilarious


Isn't it "quest'è"?


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.


Thank you for the swift, early response mate :)

[deactivated user]

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


    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.


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

    [deactivated user]

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


      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! :)


      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 :-)


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


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


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


      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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


      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 :)


      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.


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


      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.


      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.


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


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


      This is wrong. Che cosa means what not what thing


      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.


      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.


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


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


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


      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?


      they both mean what, why?


      the translation said what what


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


      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!


      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?").


      Please follow me!(i am cool)


      It's a stew.


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


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


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


      "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?


      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.


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


      Seriously man, wonderful explanation f.formica


      thank you so much for this!


      Why not...what thing is it?


      Che cosa means what. So this means what is it


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


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


      I only wrote what is it because I happened to KNOW


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


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


      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'.


      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


      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


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


      What is this... Sentence?


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


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


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


      Im just totally confused with this


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


      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.


      Can i drop these writting


      Che cosa is the most common way to say it.


      Why is che necessary?


      I have put the right answer three times and it comes up error each time


      Previously doulingo said that cosa means what and che means that..but now it seems che means what? I got confused!


      I have a question about how this phrase is used in Italian. Let me explain:

      In English we can use it one of two ways, depending on context.

      First, we use it implying there is an understood silent second half of the sentence: What is it (that you want)? or What is it (that he needs)?

      Second, we use to express the desire to know something unknown, and there is no silent second part: You're camping with a friend, and a glowing light hoovers over you. "What is it?"

      Do Italians "Che cos' e?" in both ways as well?


      I translated che cos'e as what is it and was marked incorrect????


      I thought 'che' meant 'that', and 'cosa' meant 'what'? Now I'm seeing that 'che' means 'what', and 'cosa' means 'thing'?


      "Che cosa è?" should be accepted... La donna dice cosa e non cos'. Cos' is the shorter form of cosa...


      literally not accepting "what is it" ... or is duolingo nowadays explicit in matters of questionmarks?

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