After pizza and pasta, che in Italian is the most frequently used word. But unlike pasta and pizza, che has many different uses and meanings.

Che in Italian can be a relative pronoun, an interrogative adjective and pronoun, an indefinite adjective and pronoun, a conjunction, an adverb and more. You can translate it as that, who , and can be used as interrogative adjective and pronoun.

Let’s go over each use of che in Italian:

Che as a relative pronoun

The most common use of che in italian is as a relative pronoun. And for those who don’t know grammar like the back of their hand, I will explain simply what is a relative pronoun.

What is a relative pronoun?

Relative pronouns link two sentences, with a common element, together. Relative pronouns also refer to the nouns already mentioned in the sentence. In English these are that, which, who, whom and whose.


I like the dog that does tricks.

Che as that

Che in italian is the most used relative pronoun.

La ragazza che mi piace si chiama Anna.
The girl that I like is called Anna.

Il ragazzo che mi piace si chiama Marco.
The boy that I like is called Marco.

Be careful: in Italian you can’t omit che like you do in English.

Take a look at the following example:

Il libro che sto leggendo è interessante.
The book I’m reading is interesting

Che as who

che in Italian

I already mentioned that relative pronouns connect two sentences. Che in italian can be both subject and object in the sentences.

Let’s see:

Marco è un mio cugino che vive negli USA.
Marco is my cousin who lives in the USA.

In this sentence, che refers to the subject in the sentence which is Marco.

La ragazza che hai conosciuto ieri è mia sorella.
The girl who you met yesterday is my sister.

In this example, che refers to the object in the sentence which is la ragazza.

before moving on, if you want to learn more about Italian Grammar, here there are useful books I suggest you to read:

il che in italian

But what about il che ? You must have seen it many times in texts in italian.

Let’s take a look at this example:

Hai fatto un buon esame, il che è una conferma del tuo impegno.
You have done well on the exam, which is a confirmation of your commitment.

The relative pronoun che with the definite article il refers to the whole previous sentence.

Voglio smettere di bere, il che non è facile.
I want to stop drinking, which is not easy.

Il che doesn’t refer to the subject, which is io, neither to the object, which is smettere di bere. It refers to the whole sentence, to the fact that this person wants to stop drinking.

Che as an interrogative adjective and pronoun

Che in italian can also be used as an interrogative adjective and pronoun. Don’t let this complex term frighten you! Have you ever heard an Italian ask:

Che vuoi da me?
What do you want from me?


Ma che cavolo dici?
What the heck are you talking about?

If you have, great! You already know what interrogative adjectives and pronouns are.

Let me clarify:

What is an interrogative adjective/pronoun?

The interrogatives are elements used in a sentence to introduce a question. They can be adjectives when they are followed by a noun. They can also be pronouns when they substitute a noun. Che can be both of them. 

Let’s see some examples:

Che as an interrogative adjective

che in Italian

When followed by a noun che in Italian asks for more information about that noun.

Che telefono hai?
What phone do you have?

Che musica preferisci?
What is your favorite music?

Che libro stai leggendo?
What book are you reading?

The interrogative che can be used with a preposition but in that case the preposition must be put before the interrogative.

In che città vivi?
What city do you live in?

Di che libro stai parlando?
What book are you talking about?

Con che programma posso modificare la foto?
What program can I use to edit a photo?

Che as interrogative pronoun

When che is used to replace a pronoun it’s used as an interrogative pronoun. It is also used to ask for information about something.

Che vuoi?
What do you want?

Che succede?
What’s going on?

Che aspetti?
What are you waiting for?

Also in this case a preposition can be used before the interrogative pronoun che.

Con che cosa scrivi?
What do you write with?

Di che parlate?
What are you talking about?

Che as an Indefinite adjective and pronoun

che in Italian

Che in italian can be used as an indefinite adjective and pronoun. It describes an undefined quantity or quality.

Let’s see some examples:

Questo biscotto ha un che di piccante.
This cookie has a bit of a spicy flavor to it.

Non riesco a vedere un gran che.
I can’t see much.

Diciamo che hai un certo non so che, quando sei nervosa.
Let’s say you have a certain level of something when you’re nervous.

Che as a Conjunction

As long as you progress in italian, your vocabulary will expand. With a big quantity of words in your head you will spontaneously start to use more complex structure. Then you’ll use words to link sentences together, called conjunctions, words like and, or, but, that . With them your conversation will sound more fluent.

Let’s see some examples:

Che can link an objective clause to an independent clause (or main clause):

Dice che hai ragione tu
He says that you are right.

Che can introduce a subjective clause and here we may use the indicative or the subjunctive depending on the level of certainty we have:

È ora che tu la smetta
It’s time for you to stop

Here below you will find more uses of che as a conjunction.


che in Italian

Che in Italian can be used for comparative, when a comparison is made between two elements that refer to the same subject:

È meglio uscire che starsene in casa
It’s better to go out than stay inside

Che can also be used as a consecutive conjunction:

Sono così stanco che non posso seguirti
I’m so tired that I can’t follow you


Che in Italian can introduce limitation and in italian che, in this case, is always followed by subjunctive:

Che io sappia, non esiste
As far as I know, it doesn’t exist.


Che is used as a time conjunction, it can be replaced with quando or in cui:

Il giorno che siamo partiti pioveva
It was raining on the day when we left.

Wishes and commands

che in Italian

Che in Italian is used to introduce wishes and commands:

Spera che non dica niente
hope that she won’t say anything


Che can have a connotation of exception:

Non ci resta altro che piangere
Nothing left but to cry


Che in Italian can have a disjunctive connotation and can be translated in English as whether/or

Che lo faccia o meno, è irrelevante.
Whether it does or not is irrelevant.

Che as a Causal conjunction

che in Italian

Another very important use of che in italian is as a causal conjunction. Causal conjunctions are used to explain how things work or why things happen.

Take this as example:

I didn’t have breakfast today, so I am really hungry now! – In this example SO is a causal conjunction.

Che in Italian originates a list of causal conjunctions, meaning  “because/ since/ due to the fact that“:

visto che
dato che


Dato che non avevamo più cibo, ho fatto la spesa.
Since we were out of food, I went to the grocery store.

Visto che ti comporti così negativamente, io agirò positivamente!
Since you are acting so negatively, I will act positively!

Scusa, avrei dovuto chiederti il permesso, poiché è casa tua.
Sorry, I should have asked your permission since it’s your house.

Che can also be used alone and still have causal connotation.

Look at these examples:

Scappiamo che crolla!
Let’s run away because it is crumbling!

Dobbiamo andare, che è tardi.
We must leave, because it’s late.

Devo mangiare, che ho fame.
I have to eat, because I’m hungry.

Che as an adverb

che in Italian

I’m sure you already know that Italians are very energetic people. They love to express their feelings, whether their emotions are negative or positive. Therefore in the Italian language, you can find a lot of exclamations.

Mamma mia! – You have heard it a thousand times.

Exclamations are a very important part of the Italian language. They’ll give emphasis to the message you want to convey. When you learn the right way to use exclamations you will sound more local and you’ll be able to express all the shades of your feelings.

Che in exclamations

If you’ve ever been in Italy, you must have heard Ma che bello! on the streets.

Che in italian is often used with a noun, or with an adjective and can be translated in English as What a … !

Let’s see some examples:

If you have a beautiful day, you are happy about it and you want to emphasize that you can say:

Che bella giornata!
What a beautiful day!

In the same way, if you were hoping it would be a nice day but the weather is bad, you could say:

Che brutto tempo!
What awful weather!

It can be followed only by noun:

Che peccato!
What a pity!

Che disordine!
What a mess!

Che avventura!
What an adventure!

Maybe the most common use of che as an exclamation is when is followed by an adjective:

Che bello!
How beautiful!

Che carino!
How nice!

Che brutto!
How awful!

Che buono!
How delicious!

The list goes on and on. It’s very common in Italian to use che this way. Start using it right away and your italian would sound more natural. If you like to learn through music, listen to this song:

As you can see che has a lot of uses! With this information in your mind, you will start to recognize and use che in the right way. Che bella lingua, isn’t it?

By: Lucia Aiello

Lucia Aiello is one of the co-founders of LearnItalianGo. Born and raised in Italy, she is a passionate Italian teacher and language enthusiast.