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  5. "Che cos'è?"

"Che cos'è?"

Translation:What is it?

May 30, 2013

101 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
  • 2537

"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/joshi2dec

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


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JonMiller00

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/Chris783722

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!


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 :)


[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.


    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.


    [deactivated user]

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


      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/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/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/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/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/rico16

      It's a stew.


      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
      • 2537

      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/TobyBartels

      I think that Duolingo ought to accept that, as the most literal translation.


      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.


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

      Why is che necessary?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kathy652462

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


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rose131773

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


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kelsy05076

      Why is this 'che cos'è?' instead of 'che cosa'? What does cos'è mean compared to cosa?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Indreis7

      Would anybody know what the phrase "la vita com'è" means? Is it the italian version of the french phrase "c'est la vie"? My thanks in advance :D


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f.formica
      Mod
      • 2537

      No, the equivalent expression is "è la vita" (that's life), or sometimes "così è la vita" (such is life). "Com'è" is the elision of "come è", and as a statement it means "how/like/as it is"; as a question it means "how is it", but it wouldn't be used that way for "how's life?", that's usually "come va la vita?" (how's life going?).


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Indreis7

      grazie my good sir, have my lingot!


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

      what is the different between "what is the matter"and "what is it" ?

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