Che cosa or cosa?
I've learned on Duolingo that cosa is Italian for what. However, on a couple of reference sheets I've been taught that che cosa should be used instead. Are there certain situations when I should use the two, or is it a matter of preference?
che cosa and cosa and che sometimes are synonyms.
Che cosa stai facendo?
Cosa stai facendo?
Che stai facendo?
You can use them all, if in the question "what" asks for context or a concrete noun.
Together with a noun instead you can only use "che" (or "quale"):
Che lavoro fai? Quale lavoro fai?
"che" and "cosa" are more colloquial ("cosa" is more used in north Italy, "che" in south Italy)
'quale lavoro fai?' sounds quite unnatural to me... I would say that in usage 'quale' is approx 'which' and 'che/cosa' is approx what. Of course, nuances are possible. Ex: what's your job --> che lavoro fai; what do you want? --> cosa vuoi, which one do you want? -- quale vuoi?
You are right, "che" is more used, (the Corriere della Sera" says that "quale" is more used in literature); but both forms are grammatically correct.
Technically, 'che cosa', 'che', and 'cosa' are all correct (at least in daily language, they may not be grammatically, but who cares ;) Regional differences and personal preferences make you choose which one you use... I would say that I go about 80% of the times on 'cosa', and I am originally from Rome, if that helps
This has worried me, because:
Che Cosa Che cosa
All can mean what.
I think cosa means thing so che cosa must mean what thing.
as a self-taught person I always came across "che cosa" standing for what in books and exercises, so I think it´s formal way; when I was in Rome, most often I heard "cosa vuoi"
I think that one might be formal while the other one is informal, but I am not sure.