In this case, the next-ness of the question is not an essential piece of info: http://blogs.transparent.com/italian/adjectives-and-their-position/
Judging from what I have learned and inferred, I would say no. "Che" by itself more often than not means "that". In conjunction with a verb it also stresses the action like "Io voglio che tu venire" -> "I WANT you to come". Also there is the business of contracting like sounding vowels. Afaik, if this is possible it would have to to be "ch'è la prossima domanda" but I have never seen this.
Also the only time I've seen "che" mean "what", is when it's combined with "cosa" and "cos'è".
Just read a book about Audrey Hepburn written by her Italian son... he says when he was 6 he could not speak English, when they came to visit her friends in America he always was asking...."Che dice??" ... which he says means... WHAT is she saying?? (when her friend was speaking to his mother & he didn't understand.) So from an authentic Italian (him)... CHE definitely meant ... WHAT... in his question statemnt.
Why is this said as: qual e la prossima domanda... BUT a few screens back... WHAT as the first word in the sentence was....cos' e importante per lui ??? When do we know which one is correct ??? Or could we interchange them... like: Cos' e la prossima domanda.... and Qual e importante per lui ????
It appears that che, or cosa, or che cose, generally means "what" when a definition is being sought. While "qual" means "what" when there is a choice of some kind. Or so it indicates here: http://italian.about.com/library/fare/blfare115a.htm
Here is the section, with samples, from the site above, to which I was referring [in brackets below]: [--Che cos’è...? (Che cosa è, cos’è) expresses English What is...? in a request for a definition or an explanation.
--Che cos’è la semiotica? (What is semiotics?)
--Qual è expresses What is...? when the answer involves a choice, or when one requests information such as a name, telephone number, or address.
--Qual è la tua materia preferita? (What’s your favorite subject?) Qual è il numero di Roberto? (What is Roberto’s number?)]
We can observe that in the two samples using Qual e (pretend there is an accent, I do not yet know how to type it), "what is your favorite subject" has, in English, roughly the same meaning as "which is your favorite subject". That is, there is an assumption that you have many, or at least more than two, subjects, and you are being asked to choose between them.
Likewise, the second example, "what is Roberto's number", could roughly mean, "Which is Roberto's number", because there are a lot of numbers, and you are being asked to give only one of them, that is, Roberto's.
And similarly, it seems to me, the quesiton posed in this DuoLingo problem, "what is the next question", is similar because it implies there is more than one question, and the speaker is asking us to select between, or choose, from those questions, which one we might desire to ask next.
Clearly, it's not asking a definition, so I think it must be a choice, and it seems to me it is like the examples given for using "qual e" for choices?
Caveat: I am not an Italian native speaker. So if there is one available who can chime in here and help correct this if I am wrong, that would be great.
Grazie mille. Yeah I understand everything you're saying, very well laid out. I guess Cos'e is used when seeking a definition. Which do think would be used in the following:
1) What's the time? 2) What's the weather like today?
Based off your explanation I would think Qual'e for both because there's only so many possibilities on what the time is and what weather it is today.
I'll butt in if you don't mind. :-)
- Che ora è? Literally: What time/hour is it?
- Che tempo fa oggi? Literally: What is the weather doing today?
Just when you think you're getting somewhere, language learning throws a curve ball, eh?
Based on Go2RomeSomeday's comprehensive description, I think perhaps these example use "che" because there can only be one answer.
Short answer: See this sentence: What is your number -> What (number) is your number. If you can add information before the What -> What translates to qual è/ qual sono
But if it a sentence like -> What is a dog (you can't say what dog is a dog) You don'y have additional information to add -> What translates to Cos'è/ che cosa è/ cosa sono/ che cosa sono
Description: If the "what" stands by itself then it is used as the subject of the sentence. What is it that you see? What (subject) is (verb) it that you see (object). What are apples? What (subject) are (verb) apples (object) - Cosa sono (same with plural)
But if there is an implied group before the what then what uses as an adjective to this word. What is the best route? -> What route is the best route -> What (adjective) route (subject) is (verb) the best route (object). In this case what translates to Qual è/ Qual sono.
In this exercise "what is the next question" you can say "what question is the next question" and therefore what should only be translate to "Qual è"
Use those rules only with the verb essere, with any other verb what translates to Che cosa/cosa/che.