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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.


Great answer, thank you very much!


I looked up this question on wordreference.com 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?"



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


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.


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!


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


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


Can you simply ask "Che cosa?" as in "What?" or as in "What do you mean?"


Im confused as in why i haven't really seen duo use che in the excercises. Guess i'll have to keep on practicing


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."


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


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.


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

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