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How Do Relative Pronouns Work in Italian

Relative pronouns allow us to combine two shorter sentences that are related to each other into a longer one made up of two clauses. Similarly to English, we distinguish between main or independent clauses and subordinate dependent clauses. And when there is a relative pronoun present, it is part of what's called "a relative clause."

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

The first relative pronoun that Daniela describes is che (that/which).

In questo esempio, quindi, il pronome relativo fa vece di pronome perché sostituisce la parola "casa" ma fa anche vece di congiunzione perché unisce le due frasi [sic: proposizioni].

In this example, therefore, the relative pronoun stands in for the pronoun because it replaces the word "house," but it also

takes on the role of a conjunction, because it joins two clauses.

Captions 44-48, Corso di italiano con Daniela - Pronomi relativi - Part 1

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After watching the video, let's look at some further examples of what Daniela is talking about.

Ci troviamo sulla spiaggia di Mondello, che è la spiaggia dei palermitani.

We're on the beach at Mondello, which is the beach used by Palermo's inhabitants.

Caption 3, Adriano - a Mondello

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Let's take this sentence apart and put it back together again.

 

The first sentence could be:

Ci troviamo sulla spiaggia di Mondello.
We're here on the beach at Mondello.

 

The second sentence could be:

La spiaggia di Mondello è la spiaggia dei palermitani.
The Mondello beach is the beach of the inhabitants of Palermo.

 

In order to combine these two short sentences, we use a relative pronoun to connect the clauses. We replace la spiaggia di Mondello with che (which), so it's both a pronoun that replaces a noun, and a conjunction that connects two parts of the [new] sentence.

Ci troviamo sulla spiaggia di Mondello, che è la spiaggia dei palermitani. 

 

Let's look at an example in which che translates nicely with "that," but can work fine with "which," too. In English, "that" and "which" are often interchangeable, but we need to keep in mind that "which" needs a comma before it, and "that" doesn't (most of the time). 

C'è un ballo tradizionale che si chiama il "salterello" [saltarello].

There's a traditional dance that is called the "saltarello" [literally, little jump].
There's a traditional dance, which is called the "saltarello" [literally, little jump].

Caption 38, L'Italia a tavola - Interrogazione sulle Marche

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Gli alpeggi sono le attività agricole zoologiche che si svolgono in estate in montagna.

Alpine grazing is an agricultural, zoological activity that take place in summer in the mountains.

Caption 27, L'Italia a tavola - Penne alla Toma Piemontese - Part 1

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BANNER PLACEHOLDER

In Italian, the relative pronoun che can refer to things or people. So in the following example, we can translate che as "who."

C'è sempre tantissima gente che aspetta di salire su.

There are always plenty of people who are waiting to go up.

Caption 17, In giro per l'Italia - Firenze - Part 5

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