Learning to say why in Italian is one of the first things to keep in mind when starting a conversation.

In fact, you realize that you could sometimes bump into incomplete sentences in case this word is missing. 

The most popular term to express why in Italian is perché. Perché can be intended as an interrogative adverb when making questions; on the contrary, it becomes a causal conjunction in presence of answers. It is basically used when you hope to get more information about something that happened to you or someone else. According to the type of words preceding or following perché, you are able to stress more or less what you mean. In other cases, you can resort to different but still valid options like come mai, per quale motivo, a che scopo and so on.    

Soon I’ll show you some of the most common ways to translate why in Italian. 

Shall we begin? 

before going any further, I also suggest you to refresh Italian Grammar with one of these useful books:

10 Common Ways to Say Why in Italian:

Here below you can find a list of 10 common ways of saying why in Italian and all different uses of perché in context: 

  1. Perché?
  2. Perché no! / Perché no?
  3. E perché?
  4. Perché mai?
  5. Come mai?
  6. Per quale motivo? / Per quale ragione?
  7. A che scopo? / A che pro?
  8. Il perché
  9. Ma dai! / Suvvia!
  10. Beh / Che dire

Let’s see them together more closely:

1. Perché?

Why in Italian - Perché?

Let’s start with perché, which is one of the most widespread expressions to translate why in Italian. Generally, we use it when seeking explanations about someone’s actions or finding the reason why something is happening or just occured. 


Perché Giada non è venuta? La stavamo aspettando. 
Why didn’t Giada come? We were waiting for her. 

Perché non mi hai detto nulla? Avrei potuto aiutarti! 
Why didn’t you tell me anything? I could have helped you! 

Fun fact: do you know the famous song La partita di pallone by Italian singer Rita Pavone? Well, try to guess how many times the word perché repeats itself in the song! Did you manage? Almost 14 times! 

2. Perché no! and Perché no?

Secondly, you need to know that perché can be followed by no in two specific cases.

  • In the first one, it appears when you support someone’s proposal/idea of doing something. As you can see, this is the case we use an exclamation: perché no!
  • In the second one, it occurs when you ask for explanations about something you were not allowed to do. Its equivalent in English is why not and as you can notice we use question mark: perché no?


Ma perché non andiamo in centro più tardi? – Sì, perché no!
Why don’t we go downtown later? – Sure, why not! 

Ti ho già detto che non puoi uscire stasera. – Uffa, perché no? 
I already told you that you cannot go out tonight. – Ugh, why not?  

3. E perché?

Furthermore, perché meaning why in Italian can be preceded by the conjunction e when expressing interest in something or somebody’s choices.    


Antonio ti ha chiesto di incontrarlo? E perché?
Did Antonio ask you to meet him? Why?

Isabella ha deciso di lasciare il lavoro? E perché? 
Did Isabella decide to leave her job? Why? 

Make sure not to confuse e as conjunction with è as the third person singular of the verb essere (to be) 

4. Perché mai?

Perché mai? - Italian translation of Why

On the contrary, perché followed by the adverb mai (never) conveys the idea that you are investigating the reason for what they just told you. When uttering this expression, a sense of wonder usually arises.    


Perché mai Jackson ci avrebbe mentito? Non ha senso! 
Why would Jackson lie to us? It makes no sense!  

Perché mai lo avrebbe cacciato di casa? Che ha fatto di male?
Why would she kick him out? What did he do wrong? 

As you may have noticed, the conditional tense has been employed in both sentences. On this occasion, you can just make assumptions about what happened since you don’t know the truth yet. 

5. Come mai?

As you can see, in this expression come (how) takes the place of perché. Despite that, the meaning and the use of come mai are pretty much the same as in the preceding case of saying Why in Italian. 


Come mai non sei venuta alla festa di Gianna ieri sera? 
Why didn’t you come to Gianna’s party yesterday night?

 Come mai non ti ha voluto dire quello che è successo? 
Why didn’t she want to tell you what happened? 

Fun fact: in the popular song Come mai by the Italian band 883, you can hear come mai occurring over and over again. 

6. Per quale motivo? / Per quale ragione?

Instead, per quale motivo or per quale ragione are great alternatives to indicate why in Italian. Both translate as for which reason. Plus, they are mainly employed when you specifically ask for more information about something that you struggle to understand.   


Per quale motivo non hai chiamato prima di venire?
Why didn’t you call me before coming over?  

Per quale ragione Marika pensa che ce l’abbia con lei? 
Why does Marika think I’m mad at her?

7. A che scopo? / a che pro?

Similarly, a che scopo and a che pro can be considered as other important ways to say why in Italian. They mean respectively for what purpose? and what’s the point?. In addition, they are mostly applied in very informal contexts when questioning the reason for someone’s decisions.     


Vuole vendere la casa e trasferirsi in Canada. Ok, ma a che scopo?
He wishes to sell his house and move to Canada. Ok, but why? 

Ti darà il tuo regalo di Natale a Capodanno. Sì, ma a che scopo?
She is going to give you her Christmas present on New Year’s Eve. Yeah, but why?   

8. Il perchè 

Il Perchè - Italian Why

Going on, it’s time to mention another interesting statement standing for why in Italian: il perché. As you can see, it is combined with a definite article. Regarding its usage, it is employed in the same way as the other expressions we saw until now.


Oggi la lavastoviglie non funziona e non capisco il perché. 
Today the dishwasher doesn’t work and I have no idea why. 

Non ha risposto ai miei messaggi e vorrei sapere il perché. 
He didn’t reply to my messages and I would like to know why.

Note that:

  • You can even find il perché in combination with the preposition di (of) in certain circumstances.  


Non si spiegano il perché della nostra scelta. 
They can’t explain the why of our decision. 

  • Other possible solutions imply that perché may be replaced by the nouns motivo e causa meaning reason in English. 


Non ho ancora capito il motivo del loro litigio. 
I still don’t understand the why of their argument. 

9. Ma dai! / Suvvia! 

Equally important are the following translations of why in Italian: ma dai and suvvia. These two Italian exclamations are required when you want to highlight the senselessness of what your speaker has just told you. 

In English, this concept is clearer since why might be intended as why are you making this obvious question?. Naturally, the question is incomplete and what remains is just why containing the whole meaning. 


Stai insinuando che ho copiato durante il test? Ma dai, certo che no!
Are you implying that I cheated on the test? Why, of course not!

Ci ha provato con tua moglie? Suvvia, non dire stupidaggini! 
Did he flirt with your wife? Why, don’t be silly! 

Note that suvvia has now become an old-fashioned word. Indeed, you can find it only in very formal contexts. Nevertheless, the most widespread form is su which lost a part of its components over the years. This interjection is used to exhort somebody to do something by the way.  

10. Beh / Che dire 

Also beh and che dire have the same meaning and use of the exclamations mentioned earlier. Besides that, they still remain valid alternatives to why in Italian when you are sick of employing why repeatedly.


Se sono favorevole al matrimonio omosessuale? Beh, certo! 
Am I in favor of same-sex marriage? Why, yes! Of course, I am! 

Devono venire anche loro con noi? Che dire, mi sembra ovvio!
Are they coming with us, too? Why, absolutely! It’s pretty clear!   

Why in Italian: the indirect interrogative clauses

Why and Because in Italian: the indirect interrogative clauses

Perhaps you already know that some words like how and why must be repeated when replying to questions. In this regard, we are talking about indirect interrogative clauses, primarily existing in the reported speech. 

To better understand, this type of subordinate indirectly reports the question word in the answer.   


Non so perché se ne siano andati via così presto.
I don’t know why they left so early. 

Dimmi perché hai disdetto la prenotazione all’ultimo minuto!
Tell me why you canceled our reservation at the last minute!   

How to reply to questions: Why and Because in Italian.

This last paragraph might be unuseful to you. Apart from that, I’d like to say a few words on the topic in question anyway. As you know, one of the differences between the English and Italian languages is the use of why and because. In English, why is applied in questions, whereas because in answers. On the contrary, why in Italian is used both in questions and answers. For this reason, Italians usually make mistakes concerning the proper use of why and because in English.  


Perché stai piangendo, piccolina? – Perché mi manca mamma!
Why are you crying, sweetheart? – Because I miss my mum! 

Perché non sei partito con lei? – Perché ieri ci siamo lasciati.
Why didn’t you go with her? – Because we broke up yesterday.  

Learned how to build sentences with why in Italian? Well, now try to ask your Italian friend come mai you haven’t heard from him recently!    

By: Alfonso Di Somma

Born and raised in Italy, he is an Italian professional translator and a tireless traveler. His main passion? Foreign languages!

Avere conjugation is one of the most important Italian Conjugation to keep in mind. The second one is Essere Conjugation (to be).

If you want to know Italian language you must know both verbs in order to improve your skills.

But let’s see what does avere means?

Avere is the equivalent form of the English verb to have. It generally indicates possession or ownership (abstract or matherial things); to have certain physical characteristics or moral or intellectual qualities or it is used to indicate age. Also, avere is an auxiliary verb used to create the compound tenses of regular and irregular verbs


Mia sorella ha gli occhi blu e i capelli biondi. 
My sister has blue eyes and blonde hair.  

Hai mangiato tu l’ultima fetta di pizza?
Did you eat the last slice of pizza? 

As you can notice, the use of avere can meaningfully vary according to the context where it is applied. 

Before proceeding, if you want to practice Italian tenses here is a useful books for you:

Avere Conjugation – Presente

Avere Conjugation - Learn the verb avere in Italian

The first thing to know is that avere has an irregular conjugation, meaning that you cannot look at regular verbs’ general rules. On the contrary, you need to learn it by heart:  

Io ho 
Tu hai 
Lui / Lei ha 
Noi abbiamo 
Voi avete
Loro hanno 

Remember that the “h” is silent in Italian!


Ho delle uova e anche un pò di farina. Facciamo una torta?
I have some eggs and some flour, too. Shall we bake a cake?  

Mandy ha due criceti, una tartaruga e un cane di nome Skippy.
Mandy has two hamsters, a turtle, and a dog named Skippy.   

Avere Conjugation – Passato Prossimo 

Io ho avuto 
Tu hai avuto 
Lui / Lei ha avuto 
Noi abbiamo avuto 
Voi avete avuto 
Loro hanno avuto 

Passato Prossimo is the tense of actions that happened in the recent past. It is essentially employed when indicating what you have done this morning, yesterday, one month ago, and so on.   


Non ha avuto la forza di dirle cosa stesse realmente accadendo. 
He didn’t have the strength to tell her what was really going on.  

Povero Chris! Oggi ha avuto proprio una giornataccia! 
Poor Chris! Today he really had a pretty rough day! 

Avere Conjugation – Imperfetto 

Avere Conjugation - Learn the verb avere in Italian

Io avevo 
Tu avevi 
Lui / Lei aveva
Noi avevamo 
Voi avevate 
Loro avevano 

You make use of Imperfetto in Italian in case you want to talk about past habits, feelings, and actions in progress in the past.   


Quando ero piccolo, i miei avevano una casa in campagna vicino Frascati.
When I was young, my parents used to have a house in the country near Frascati. 

Per caso avevate bisogno di qualcosa? Va tutto bene?
Did you guys need anything? Is everything ok?  

Avere Conjugation – Trapassato Prossimo 

Io avevo avuto 
Tu avevi avuto 
Lui / Lei aveva avuto 
Noi avevamo avuto 
Voi avevate avuto 
Loro avevano avuto 

Instead, to speak about an event occurring before another one in the past, you need to look at the Trapassato Prossimo. To form it, just take the simple past of avere and its past participle (avuto).      


Non avevi avuto già la tua paghetta? Perché sei di nuovo qui? 
Hadn’t you already gotten your allowance? Why are you here again? 

Dennis aveva avuto in regalo una costosissima chitarra elettrica. 
Dennis had had as a gift a very expensive electric guitar. 

Avere Conjugation – Passato Remoto 

Io ebbi 
Tu avesti 
Lui / Lei ebbe 
Noi avemmo 
Voi aveste 
Loro ebbero 

Going on, we can find Passato Remoto. Generally present in literature and history books, it is chiefly employed to expess actions that happened a long time ago. Considered as an “endangered” tense, it is largely replaced by the Passato Prossimo in everyday language. 


Dopo aver scoperto il tradimento di suo marito, ebbe una crisi nervosa. 
After she found out her husband cheated on her,  she had a mental breakdown. 

Qualche anno fa si sposarono ed ebbero due splendide bambine. 
Some years ago they got married and had two beautiful little girls. 

Avere Conjugation – Trapassato Remoto 

Avere Conjugation - Learn the verb avere in Italian
Io ebbi avuto 
Tu avesti avuto 
Lui / Lei ebbe avuto 
Noi avemmo avuto 
Voi aveste avuto 
Loro ebbero avuto 

Similarly, although it has almost disappeared in the spoken language, Italian Trapassato Remoto still occurs in the written language, especially in documentaries, novels and newspapers. Being a compound tense, it is formed by avere conjugated in the Passato Remoto and its past participle.  


Dopo che ebbe avuto modo di scusarsi, decise di restare. 
After she had had the chance to apologize, she decided to stay. 

Ci ringraziarono solo dopo che avemmo avuto quella brillante idea.
They thanked us only after we had had that brilliant idea.   

Avere Conjugation – Futuro Semplice 

On the other hand, Italian Futuro is mainly applied when you aim to report events that have yet to happen (Futuro Semplice) or a fact that will be finished before another one takes place (Futuro Anteriore).   

Io avrò 
Tu avrai 
Lui / Lei avrà 
Noi avremo 
Voi avrete 
Lo avranno 


Avrete tutto quello che avete chiesto, non vi preoccupate!
You will have everything you asked for, don’t worry! 

Mi sa che nessuno di noi avrà le ferie quest’estate. 
I think none of us will go on holiday this summer.    

Avere Conjugation – Futuro Anteriore 

Avere Conjugation - Learn the verb avere in Italian
Io avrò avuto 
Tu avrai avuto 
Lui / Lei avrà avuto 
Noi avremo avuto 
Voi avrete avuto 
Loro avranno avuto 


Melinda avrà avuto le sue buone ragioni per aver rotto con Milton.
Melinda will have had her reasons for breaking up with Milton.   

Avranno avuto tutto quello di cui hanno bisogno? Chissà!
Will they have had everything they need? Who knows! 

Avere Conjugation – Congiuntivo Presente 

Congiuntivo is mainly used when talking about something you are not sure of or expressing your opinion. Anyway, its main feature is the conjunction che preceding the conjugated verb. In addition, the simple and compound tenses of Congiuntivo can be translated with the tenses of present and past simple.   

Che io abbia 
Che tu abbia 
Che lui / lei abbia 
Che noi abbiamo 
Che voi abbiate 
Che loro abbiano 


Tuo padre vuole solo che tu abbia le stesse opportunità dei tuoi coetanei. 
Your dad just wants you to have the same chances as your peers. 

Ho paura che non abbia voglia di venire in vacanza con noi quest’anno. 
I fear he doesn’t feel like coming on holiday with us this year.  

Avere Conjugation – Congiuntivo Passato 

Che io abbia avuto 
Che tu abbia avuto 
Che lui / lei abbia avuto 
Che noi abbiamo avuto 
Che voi abbiate avuto 
Che loro abbiano avuto 


Nonostante abbia avuto un buon voto, Mason era ancora triste.
Although he got a good grade, Mason was still unhappy. 

Spero che abbiate avuto un buon motivo per non essere venute alla mia mostra.
I hope you had a good reason for not coming to my exhibition.    

Avere Conjugation – Congiuntivo Imperfetto 

Avere Conjugation - Learn the verb avere in Italian
Che io avessi
Che tu avessi 
Che lui / lei avesse 
Che noi avessimo 
Che voi aveste 
Che loro avessero 


Credeva che avesse torto dopo quello che aveva detto. 
He thought she was wrong after what she said.

Se aveste più fiducia in me, mi lascereste lavorare in santa pace!
If you had more faith in me, you would let me work in peace!   

Avere Conjugation – Congiuntivo Trapassato 

Che io avessi avuto 
Che tu avessi avuto 
Che lui / lei avesse avuto 
Che noi avessimo avuto 
Che voi aveste avuto 
Che loro avessero avuto 


Se avesse avuto modo di aiutarla, non le avrebbe lasciato fare una simile stupidaggine. 
If she had had the chance to help her, she wouldn’t have let her do such a silly thing. 

Vorrei che avessimo avuto più tempo per stare insieme ieri sera.
I wish we had had more time to be together yesterday evening.  

Avere Conjugation – Condizionale Presente 

Io avrei 
Tu avresti 
Lui / Lei avrebbe 
Noi avremmo 
Voi avreste 
Loro avrebbero 

You resort to Italian Condizionale when you intend to express wishes, intentions, hypotheses, and polite requests. 


In realtà avrei qui con me qualcosa che fa al caso tuo. 
Actually, I’d have something here with me that’s right for you.  

Signor Draghi, quei ragazzi lì avrebbero una proposta da farle. 
Mr. Draghi, those guys there would like to lay a proposition before you. 

Avere Conjugation – Condizionale Passato 

Avere Conjugation - Learn the verb avere in Italian
Io avrei avuto 
Tu avresti avuto 
Lui / Lei avrebbe avuto 
Noi avremmo avuto 
Voi avreste avuto 
Loro avrebbero avuto 


Sapevano che avrebbero avuto presto sue notizie.
They figured they’d be hearing from him soon. 

Si dice che avrebbe avuto una relazione con una famosa bulgara.
They say he would have a love affair with a famous Bulgarian actress.    

Avere Conjugation – Imperativo 

You build sentences in the Imperativo in case you want to give orders, instructions, or advice to somebody. Seen as it is an irregular verb, avere has its own forms, too.  

Abbi (tu) 
Abbia (lui / lei) 
Abbiamo (noi) 
Abbiate (voi) 
Abbiano (loro) 


Abbi pazienza e aspetta il tuo turno, per favore! 
Please be patient and get in line!   

Abbiate il coraggio di prendervi le vostre responsabilità, ragazzi!
Guys, be brave enough to take on your own responsibilities!  

Avere Conjugation – Infinito 

Avere Conjugation - Learn the verb avere in Italian
Present tense Past tense 
avere aver avuto 


La maggior parte delle persone aspira ad avere una vita felice. 
Most people aim to live happy life. 

Devi aver avuto una giornata molto impegnativa, vero? 
It must have been a busy day for you, mustn’t it? 

Avere Conjugation – Participio 

Present tense Past tense 
avente avuto 

While avente is less common, avuto is basically employed in the compound tenses of avere, as you have seen until now.  


Sta cercando un appartamento avente tre stanze e due bagni.
He’s looking for an apartment having three rooms and two bathrooms.  

Avuto quello che desiderava, Mike non si è fatto più vivo.
After he had what he demanded, Mike didn’t show up anymore.   

Avere Conjugation – Gerundio 

Gerundio is another tense Italians don’t use very often. Anyway, you can easily find it in sentences in the present progressive.  

Present tense Past tense 
avendo avendo avuto 


Avendo tante cose da fare non ho tempo di andarlo a trovare.
Having a lot of things to do, I’m too busy to visit him. 

Avendo avuto l’influenza sono rimasto a casa la scorsa settimana.
Having had the flu, I stayed at home last week. 

Different uses of Avere in Italian

Avere Conjugation - Learn the verb avere in Italian

Expressing feelings

Avere in Italian is widely applied in lots of expressions to express a feeling, a sensation, or a desire to be accomplished. Here is a list of the most important statements you probably could hear during a conversation with Italians:

Italian English 
avere voglia di to feel like 
avere freddo / caldo to be cold/hot 
avere sete / fame to be thirsty/hungry 
avere paura di to be scared/afraid of 
avere sonno to be sleepy 
avere fretta to be in a hurry 
avere bisogno di to need 
avere torto / ragione to be wrong/right 
avere piacere di to be pleased 


Si sa che tutti i bambini hanno paura del buio. 
Everyone knows that kids are afraid of the dark.  

Sai perfettamente che questa volta hai torto marcio.
You know exactly you are dead wrong this time.  

Devi dirmi qualcosa? Sbrigati che ho fretta! 
Is there anything you need to tell me? Come on, I’m in a hurry! 

Talking about your age 

One of the first things Italian students learn when studying English is talking about their age. Actually, you are required to use avere in Italian to say how old you are instead of essere as it happens in English. 


Maria ha 15 anni e viene da Milano. 
Maria is 15 years old and comes from Milan. 

Italian idioms with Avere  

Avere Conjugation - Learn the verb avere in Italian

The verb avere also occurs in lots of Italian idiomatic expressions. 

Since there are so many, we are going to mention the most used and popular ones:

Italian English 
avere l’aria di to seem 
avere (o non avere) a che fare con qualcosa o qualcunoto have something to do with something or someone 
avere a mente to remember 
avere importanza to be important 
avere luogoto take place 
avere inizio to begin 
avere da fare to be busy 
avere cura di qualcosa o qualcunoto take care of somebody and something 
avere un diavolo per capello to be furious 


Ha l’aria di sapere quello che sta facendo. Fidati di me!
He seems to know what he is doing. Trust me!  

Il concerto non ha avuto luogo a causa del maltempo.
The concert didn’t take place due to bad weather.  

Lasciami stare! Oggi ho un diavolo per capello! 
Leave me alone! I’m so furious today!   

Regional uses: Tenere vs Avere 

In some regions of Italy, especially in the South, avere is sometimes replaced by the verb tenere meaning to hold, maintain or keep


Papà, tengo fame! Mi porti qualcosa da mangiare? 
Dad, I’m hungry! Can you bring me anything to eat? 

At the end of this article, you should have learned the full conjugation of avere and its main uses according to the cases seen before.

Therefore, why don’t you open up a conversation with a simple question like “quanti anni hai?” or “hai fratelli o sorelle?“.

By: Alfonso Di Somma

Born and raised in Italy, he is an Italian professional translator and a tireless traveler. His main passion? Foreign languages!