If you’re just beginning to learn Italian, you might get CHI mixed up with CHE. CHE and CHI are two common Italian terms that have different meanings and are used in different contexts. These two pronouns are similar in spelling and pronunciation, but have distinct meanings and uses in Italian grammar. Let’s see the difference between CHE vs CHI in this post to improve your Italian and avoid mistakes.
is by far the most common of all relative pronouns in the Italian language, and indeed is one of the most frequently used words.
It is more commonly found as an interrogative in questions but as a pronoun that only refers to people.
“Che” is a more flexible pronoun that can take on different meanings based on the context. In English, it can be rendered as “that“, “which“, “who“, “whom“, “what” or “as“.
Use CHE when you don’t want to repeat a word. It has no gender and number therefore it is neither masculine nor feminine, singular nor plural.
La pizza CHE ho mangiato ieri era molto buona.
This sentence means:
Ieri ho mangiato una pizza, la pizza era molto buona. (I ate a pizza yesterday, the pizza was very good.)
In this sentence, we repeat the word PIZZA twice.
For this reason, instead of repeating the name, it is better to use a pronoun instead.
In order not to repeat the word PIZZA we use CHE.
I regali CHE Maria mi ha fatto sono molto belli. (The gifts that Maria gave me are very beautiful.)
Instead of CHE you can use a similar pronoun with a gender and a number: you can use il quale/la quale – i quali/le quali.
“Chi” is generally used to refer to a person or people. It can be translated as “who” or “whom” in English. “Chi” is used in questions to ask for the identity of a person or group, or to introduce a relative clause that describes a person or group.
Chi is used only to refer to people, never to things
Notice that chi is always used with a singular verb even when it refers to more than one person.
Non ricordo chi ha telefonato ieri.
(I don’t remember who called yesterday
Chi lavora sodo viene premiato.
(Those who work hard are rewarded.)
Chi conveys the demonstrative pronoun colui/colei and coloro che – however, these pronouns are seldom used in the spoken language.
In Italian, “chi” can also be used as a subject pronoun. For example:
- Chi legge questo libro imparerà molto. (Whoever reads this book will learn a lot.)
- Chi sa parlare francese? (Who knows how to speak French?)
To summarize, “chi” and “che” are both names in Italian, but they have distinct meanings and applications. “Chi” refers to a person or group of people, whereas “che” introduces a relative clause or connects two ideas. Italian learners are able to comprehend the language more effectively if they understand the differences between these two pronouns.
Here are five sayings of popular wisdom, in which chi is used (we leave their interpretation and translation to you.
- Chi cerca trova. (He who seeks finds.)
- Chi va piano va sano e va lontano. (Who goes slow and steady wins.)
- Chi di spada ferisce di spada perisce. (Whoever is wounded by the sword perishes.)
- Chi tace acconsente. (Who keeps silent consents.)
- Chi troppo vuole nulla stringe. (Who wants too much nothing squeezes.)
You might want to keep learning Italian online with these free resources:
How to use Perché Poiché Perciò Purché in Italian
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