We've talked about the conjunction che in previous lessons, and you have heard it in many different contexts, with varying meanings. It's one of those conjunctions that kicks off the subjunctive, so we have to pay attention to it. It is also a substitute for "what" in many situations. It's one of those all-purpose words, often translated as "that."
To learn more about this indispensable little word, check out some of our lessons:
There's a construction we come across from time to time in Yabla videos, and very often in conversation. Here's how it goes:
You make a statement, usually in the imperative, followed by che è meglio. The translation of this little phrase is, literally: "which is better." Here's an example. Somebody is telling somebody else to shut up. It would be a great idea to shut up.
Zitto tu, che è meglio.
Best if you be quiet.
Caption 19, Sposami EP 4 - Part 6Play Caption
The way this expression is used in Italian results in a different word order from what we might expect, or from what we would say in English. The formula is: Give a command, (which can also be in the first person plural, as in the following example), then tack on che è meglio.
Torniamo domattina che è meglio.
Let's come back tomorrow morning, which would be better.
Caption 45, Dafne Film - Part 22Play Caption
Optional exercise: Once you have read the whole lesson, can you put this differently by starting the sentence with è meglio? Hint — the verb is tornare. Check out the conjugation, as you will need the subjunctive. **possible solution below.
Our translations can't really do justice to this expression, which is why we feel the need to provide some extra information. It's often expressed with a tone of chastisement, intolerance, disapproval, or warning. It can go hand in hand with a raised eyebrow, a tilting of the head.
The construction we have illustrated above is colloquial, because the grammar is a bit casual. There is also a "correct" way to say the same thing. It might not have the same punch, though. Also, it uses the subjunctive.
"È meglio che tu vada a casa".
“It's best that you go home.”Play Caption
Can you transform the example above into a colloquial version? Possible solution below.*
Don't worry. Not everyone uses the subjunctive in this case. Here's an example:
Forse è meglio che prendi un taxi anche tu.
Maybe it would be better for you to take a taxi, too.Play Caption
*** Maybe you can figure out how to say pretty much the same thing, starting with Prendi and leaving out the forse (maybe).
We can also go all out with the subjunctive and conditional to say:
Sarebbe meglio se tu andassi a casa (it would be better if you went home).
Sarebbe meglio se tu prendessi un taxi (it would be better if you took a taxi).
Sarebbe meglio se tu stessi zitto (it would be better if you kept quiet).
Note: A variation on this is sarà meglio. Just like che è meglio, sarà meglio is used when you're miffed, or when you want someone to do something. See our lesson about this: Being Miffed in Italian
* Vai a casa che è meglio.
** È meglio se torniamo domattina.
*** Prendi un taxi anche tu che è meglio.