Italian Interrogative Adverbs

avverbi interrogativi

Italian interrogative adverbs (avverbi interrogativi) introduce a question that relates to:

manner: come?
place: dove?
time: quando?
size or value: quanto?
reason: perché?

Come (KOH-meh)? (How?) Come sta Giancarlo?
Dove (DOH-vay)? (Where?) Dov’è la biblioteca?
Perché (pair-KEH)? (Why?) Perché non dormono?
Quando (KWAN-doh)? (When?) Quando parte Pietro?

The following interrogative words are the most commonly used to introduce a question:

A che ora? (At what time?)
Come? (How?)
Come mai? (How come? Why [on earth]? Why ever?)
Dove? (Where?)
Perché? (Why?)
Quando? (When?)
Quanto? (How much?)

Two common contractions are com’è? (a contraction of come è? meaning “how is?”) anddov’è? (a contraction of dove è? meaning “where is?”). Again, note that in Italian the subject and verb are inverted in interrogative sentences:

A che ora partono i tuoi amici? (At what time are your friends leaving?)
Come sta Luigi? (How is Louis?)
Dove sono i bambini? (Where are the children?)
Dov’è il bambino? (Where is the child?)
Perché fumi tanto? (Why do you smoke so much?)
Quanto fa due più tre? (How much is two plus three?)

The subject and verb are not inverted with come mai:

Come mai Umberto non è qui? (How come Umberto is not here?/Why ever isn’t Umberto here?)

Interrogative Pronouns

Modern English has five interrogative pronouns–what, which, who, whose, and whom–that are used to facilitate the asking of a question and that replace a noun in a sentence. Sentences using interrogative pronouns are intended to elicit more than just a “yes” or “no” answer. These pronouns can refer to places and things and can take on the suffixes -soever or -ever.

In Italian interrogative pronouns, or pronomi interrogativi, are also used to introduce a question or interrogative sentence. Quale andquali (which one or ones), che and che cosa (what–as it applies to a thing), chi (who or whom), and quanto or quanti (how much or how many), are examples of Italian interrogative pronouns.  Below are some samples of sentences containing interrogative pronouns:

Che vuoi? = What do you want?

Che cosa è questo? = What is this?

Chi è tuo marito? = Who is your husband?

Con chi stai parlando al telefono? = With whom are you talking on the phone?

Quale vestito da sposa indosserai? = Which bridal gown will you wear?

Quante persone vengono alla festa? = How many people are coming to the party?

Quanti anni hai? = How old are you?

In Italian a question never finishes with a preposition. Most of the question words are invariable, meaning that they do not   have to agree with the value of the noun, however quale (which) and quante/quanti (how much), must agree. Before singular nouns we usequale and before plural nouns we use quali.  For example:

Quale macchina compri? = Which car are you buying? – The sentence is referring to (1) car

Quali libri leggere? =  Which books to read? – The sentence is referring to books, plural

For quante/quanti the pronoun must match not only the quantity, but whether the noun is masculine or feminine.

Quanto = masculine singular

Quanta = feminine singular

Quanti = masculine plural

Quante = feminine plural

Quanto vino posso bere? = How much wine can I drink?

Quanta pasta mangerà Maria? = How much pasta will Maria eat?

Quanti soldi stai guadagnando? = How many money are you earning?

Quante paste mangerai? = How many pastries will you eat?

Quante bugie! = How many lies!

Interrogative Adverbs

Used in the same way as interrogative pronouns, interrogative adverbs enable the construction of sentences that refer to verbs or actions rather than nouns. Examples of English pronouns include why, where, how and when. Italian interrogative adverbs, oravverbi interrogativi, are come, quandoperchè, and dove.Come?  = How (the manner in which the verb is being acted out)Quando? = When (the verb’s location in time)Perchè? = Why (the purpose, the cause, or reason for the verb)Dove?  = Where (the verb’s location in space)

Come posso dimagrire? = How can I lose weight?

Quando è il tuo compleanno? = When is your birthday?

Perché mangi così tanto? = Why do you eat so much?

Dove è Maria? = Where is Maria?


Insert the correct interrogative pronoun

  • 1) Chi è quella ragazza con il vestito blu? = _______ is the girl in the blue dress?
  • 2) Qual’è il nome della squadra rossa? = _______ is the name of the team in red?
  • 3) A chi piace giocare a calcio? = _______ likes to play football?
  • 4) Per chi Maria ha fatto questi biscotti? = For _______ did Maria make these cookies?
  • 5) Quali nomi hai scelto per il tuo gatto? = _______names did you choose for your cat?
  • 6) Chi hai visto ieri sera? = _______did you see last night?
  • 7) A chi dovrebbe essere pagato l’assegno? = To_______should the check be made payable?


  1. Who
  2. What
  3. Who
  4. Who
  5. Which
  6. Whom
  7. Whom