Cosa vs Che Cosa

Can anyone please explain to me the difference between the two? For example, I understand that "Cos'è una donna?" means "what is a woman?", but then what would "Che cos'è una donna" would mean? Is it the same? I suspect not, but i can't find a clear answer anywhere. If someone could explain with one or two examples, it would be great. Thanks!

May 31, 2013


Hi there. Looks like this has been pretty much cleared up, but just give my two cents... This is indeed a common situation in Italian. "Che", "Cosa", and "Che Cosa" all can mean "what". In order to keep things straight, know that "Che Cosa" is the most formal and correct way of saying it, "Cosa" is less formal but still very common used, and "Che" is generally slang. For instance, very few people would go through the trouble of saying "Che Cosa Fai" (what are you doing). However, "Cosa Fai" is common, and "Che Fai" could easily be used when talking to a friend that you are quite comfortable with, very similar to "what's up". Like Nictheman said, there are also definite regional variations.

October 7, 2013

Great answer, thank you very much!

November 20, 2013

I looked up this question on and many people are saying that Che cosa is the "correct" way to say "what?" in Italian, but Cosa and Che by themselves are regional variations of how to say "What?"

June 1, 2013

You are right: "cosa" is the short/informal version for "che cosa".

June 5, 2013

My family is from the south of Italy and they actually say "che" as the short/informal version of "che cosa"! Strange how regional it is.

June 6, 2013

I hear that's very common in Italy! it makes learning the language so interesting (and a little hard I suppose!) :)

June 7, 2013

Perhaps it should be noted that in some places in Italy, it is considered rude or impolite to use simply 'Che...' when posing a question. In the long run, it may be better to use 'Che cosa' if you're unsure. The 'cosa' functions to soften the 'che' in 'Che cosa.' Hope this helps!

July 8, 2013

Cool. Thanks!

June 5, 2013

My italian teacher tough me "cosa" and "che cosa" are the same.

October 21, 2013

I've wondered about this, too. I've heard "Che cos'è questo?" used to mean "What is this?" but wasn't sure if you could just use "che."

December 5, 2013

"che è questo" it's a rude way to say the same thing

December 31, 2013

It helps to know that "cosa" in Spanish means "thing." So when you're asking the original way, "Che cosa fai?" you are kind of asking "what thing are you doing?" "Qué,"means "What" in Spanish.

February 1, 2014

It seems however, from Googeling and reverso, that “che c’è” is very unusual, it is “cosa c’è” or “che cosa c’è”

April 4, 2019
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