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Minimalist Italian — with che

One of the hardest things to do in a new language is to construct a sentence. Understanding is one thing, but putting words together can be such a challenge.

 

The good news is that sometimes you don't have to say much to get your idea across. Let's look at some ways to comment on things without actually constructing a sentence. Using che, we can either complain about something: che caldo (how hot it is), or we can be making a compliment: che buono (this is so good).

 

The magic word

The magic word is che (that, what, which). We then add the appropriate adjective.

Che bello! Ciao! -Che bello!

How nice! Bye! -How nice!

Captions 75-76, Il Commissario Manara S1EP5 - Il Raggio Verde - Part 4

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Ehm, guardate che carino.

Uh, look how pretty.

Caption 23, Professioni e mestieri Belle Arti -Tecniche di decorazione - Part 1

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The speaker could have just said, che carino!

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Oddio che freddo!

Oh my God it's freezing!

Caption 59, Il Commissario Manara S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 9

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We could use the same formula to talk about the heat or the humidity. Actually some of these words can be used as nouns or adjectives.

Che caldo! (how hot it is)!

Che umido (how humid it is)

 

Nouns can work too, sometimes

Sometimes we can add a noun instead of an adjective:

Che facciamo? Il telefono... Anche il mio. -Che sfiga!

What can we do? The telephone... Mine too. -What a bummer!

Captions 37-39, Il Commissario Manara S1EP2 - Vendemmia tardiva - Part 9

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E che cavolo!

Hey what the hell?

Caption 22, La Ladra Ep. 6 - Nero di rabbia - Part 6

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A few more examples of che + a noun

Che sole (what [bright] sun)!

Che tramonto (what a sunset)!

Che cena (what a [great] dinner)

Che umidità (what humidity)!

Che afa (how muggy it is)!

Che giornata (what a day)!

 

Sometimes we don't even need che

In some cases, we don't even need to use che.  

Strano, perché Eva mi ha detto che è laureata.

Strange, because Eva told me she had a degree.

Caption 50, La Ladra Ep. 5 - Chi la fa l'aspetti - Part 1

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This sentence could have been.:

Che strano. Eva mi ha detto che è laureato.

How strange. Eva told me she had a degree. 

 

Something extra to know:

 

When we are at the extremes of the adjective spectrum, in other words, when using adjectives in their comparative or superlative form we don't use che, because we are already, in effect, making something superlative, with che. If we want to use the superlative, it's better to go for the adjective all by itself.

We wouldn't say che bellissimo. We would just say bellissimo (very beautiful)!

Che bello says pretty much the same thing.

 

To conclude

There are lots of way to talk about things, but it's nice to have an easy, minimalist way, especially if we are beginners, or just having trouble finding the words.  Che is a word that is also used with the subjunctive, and therefore might instill a bit of anxiety in learners, but it can also be our friend. 

 

 

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