…which sucks, obviously, because you’ve spent all of this time accumulating knowledge and it’s not working together in the way it’s supposed to.
This issue could stem from a couple of problems, one being a lack of understanding about specific constructions like direct and indirect object pronouns or a lack of practice in everyday conversation in Italian.
Most likely, it’s a bit of both.
In an attempt to help you remedy this problem, we’re going to chat about the relative pronouns.
Relative Pronouns (I pronomi relativi)
I want you to think of relative pronouns as the matchmakers of Italian.
There are four you should know about right away:
– Quello che
I’ll explain what they mean, provide some context, and then give some examples for each.
Have you ever heard / read Emma by Jane Austen? (Cheating. I totally haven’t, but I know the plot.)
Emma thinks that she is the best matchmaker that ever lived and spends most of her time meddling in other people’s more interesting affairs.
The relative pronoun that likes to meddle the most is CHE.
Che can mean:
It never changes in form so is thus confined to a meddlesome existence for the rest of forever. In grammar speak, they call it invariable.
But it is destined to make the Italian language more fluid, so it’s okay.
– La ragazza che ho incontrato è cinese. – The girl who I met is Chinese.
– Le persone che ho incontrato sono gli amici del mio ragazzo. – The people whom I met are my boyfriend’s friends.
– Dimenticavo che un altro stereotipo diffuso negli stati uniti è che molte persone pensano che tutti gli italiani sono mafiosi. – I forgot that another well-known stereotype in the US is that many people think that all Italians are in the Mafia.
– È una storia che parla del crimine e dell’amore. – It is a story which speaks of crime and love.
– Ho finalmente letto quel libro che mi hai prestato! – I finally read that book you lent me!
– Mario ha detto quello che tutti pensavano. – Mario expressed what everyone was thinking.
So you’re probably wondering why ‘che’ and ‘cui’ mean ‘whom’.
As you see the context, and especially if you’re a native English speaker, there is a natural inclination to use the correct ones in the right way.
‘Cui’ is like the friend you have that is usually dating someone. And on the off chance that they’re single, something just feels off.
The majority of time, ‘cui’ has a preposition (di, a, con, su, per, tra, fra) in front of it.
– La mia ragazza, a cui ho telefonato, si chiama Isabella. – My girlfriend to whom I called is Isabella.
– “C’è qualche motivo per cui questa svolta avviene nel Veneziano e non altrove?”* -There is some reason for which this change occurs in Venice and not elsewhere?
– La situazione in cui mi trovo è strana. – The situation in which I find myself is strange.
– Ho pranzato con la mia professoressa di diritto, di cui ho molta stima. – I’ve had lunch with my Law teacher, to whom I have a lot of respect.
When translated literally, these sentences can sound pretty formal, like we’re talking to a Duke in 1754 or something. But they’re correct, I promise. The more you hear them being used and practice using them, the less weird it will feel.
– He/she who
– Those who
– The ones
‘Chi’ never changes in form either!
– Chi trova un amico, trova un tesoro. – He who finds a friend, finds a treasure.
– Chi cerca trova. – He who seeks will find.
– Chi pensa il contrario lo dica adesso! – Those who has a different opinion, speaks now!
– Chi credi di essere? – Who do you think you are?
– Chi tace essendo testimone di un reato è complice a sua volta. -Anyone who witnessed a crime and remain silent is accessory itself.
Quello che means:
– That which
This is understood in the sense of ‘that which’ you said or ‘that which’ we did.
And the final one never changes either!
– Avere quello che ci vuole – To have that which is necessary (To have what it takes)
– Fai quello che devi fare. – You do that which you must do.
Any questions? Drop ’em in the comments below.