what vs which

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kia

New Member
italian italy
The difference between "which" and "what"?
La differenza fra "which" e "what"?
 
  • mimitabby

    Senior Member
    usa, english
    which = quale
    what = cosa

    I think in spoken English, there is some blurring of these two words.
    Which dog did you like?
    What dog did you like ?(INCORRECT, but used)
    What is this? (I have no idea - explain to me what this thing is )
    Which is this? (Is this the one you found or is it the one you purchased?)
     
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    brian

    Senior Member
    AmE (New Orleans)
    I'll probably forget some things, but here goes:

    Functions of What:

    Interrogative pronoun: what = che/cosa/che cosa
    --What did you buy? = Cos'hai comprato?

    Relative pronoun (in an indirect question?): what = quello che/ciò che
    --I saw what you bought = Ho visto quello che (ciò che) hai comprato.

    In an exclamatory remark: what = che
    --What a beautiful girl! = Che bella ragazza!

    Functions of Which:

    Relative pronoun: which, that = che, cui
    --I saw the book which (that) you read = Ho visto il libro che hai letto.

    Interrogative adjective: which = quale
    --Which book do you like? = Ti piace quale libro?

    NOTE 1: You will often hear, as mimitabby mentioned, Which is this vs. What is this. This is because the word "one" is left out...it should be Which one is this, making which = quale = interrogative adjective.

    NOTE 2: According to my Prego textbook:
    Prego said:
    Qual è...? (Quale è...) expresses What is...? when the answer calls for a choice, or when one requests information such as a name, telephone number, or address.

    Qual è la tua materia preferita? = What is your favorite subject?
    Qual è il numero di Roberto? = What is Roberto's phone number?
    In other words, even though English uses the interrogative adjective what in these examples, and one may expect che in Italian, the word quale is actually used.

    NOTE 3: Quello che (ciò che) is a way of linking English's use of what vs. which. Quello che translates to "that which," so that we have Ho visto quello che hai comprato = I saw what you bought = I saw that (thing) which you bought. The use of "that which" is rare in spoken language but somewhat common in formal writing. The quello/that acts as a demonstrative pronoun, and the che/which acts as the relative pronoun, whose antecedant is quello/that.

    I don't know if I covered the whole gamut or not, but if I think of anything else I'll post again.


    Brian
     

    Moogey

    Senior Member
    USA English
    We often use "what" when in other languages, "which" is more appopriate. For example, one might ask "What languages do you speak?" when you probably should say "Which languages do you speak?" My Italian teacher explained that "which" is appropriate when there's a list, and there's a list of languages!

    -M
     

    moodywop

    Banned
    Italian - Italy
    brian8733 said:
    Which book do you like? = Ti piace quale libro?
    Normally we would say quale libro ti piace?

    Brian has already provided an exhaustive explanation.

    Since I think that Kia was mainly asking about "which" and "what" as interrogative pronouns, I'll just add that a useful tip for Italians is to use "which" where "quale/chi di..." is used in Italian:

    Chi di loro? Which of them?

    Quale di quei ragazzi? Which of those boys?
    (although here "quale" can only refer to a single boy, whereas "which" can refer to one or more. Can you say which one of them?)
     

    brian

    Senior Member
    AmE (New Orleans)
    moodywop said:
    (although here "quale" can only refer to a single boy, whereas "which" can refer to one or more. Can you say which one of them?)
    Yes, you can. In my previous post, I said that when you have a case of "Which do you like," or something similar, the word "one" in English is left out, so that it should read "Which one do you like."

    But now thinking about it, I realize that "of them" is also left out! It should read "Which one of them do you like," because obviously there is some sort of choice among things.

    Usually, a single "which" refers only to one thing: If you and I were shopping for a watch, and I asked, Which do you like?, I would probably mean "Which one do you like." But depending on context, which could refer to more than one thing. If this is the case, however, you'll more likely here "Which ones..." And more often than not, "of them" is completely dropped unless you want to be extra specific and say "of the watches," "of the ____s," etc.

    I'd also like to pose another question. The Latin qualis/e, whence the Italian quale is derived, can have the English translation of which/what kind of. (Thinking about it now, I almost always say What kind of, not Which kind of...which obviously breaks my own rules, but it sounds better; I'll have to think about that some more and give a reason.) Anyway, can the Italian quale ever mean what kind of? I've looked at threads, and it seems Italians would rather use che tipo di (which, like in English, supercedes the quale tipo di).

    For example: What kind of restaurant do you want to go to tonight? = A che tipo del ristorante vuoi andare stasera? = A quale ristorante vuoi andare stasera?

    If I translated this last one as, Which restaurant, it'd have a completely different meaning...as if there were a list of choices for restaurants. Maybe quale just lost some of the original qualis meaning.


    Brian
     

    uinni

    Senior Member
    Italy, Italian
    brian8733 said:
    I'd also like to pose another question. The Latin qualis/e, whence the Italian quale is derived, can have the English translation of which/what kind of. (Thinking about it now, I almost always say What kind of, not Which kind of...which obviously breaks my own rules, but it sounds better; I'll have to think about that some more and give a reason.) Anyway, can the Italian quale ever mean what kind of? I've looked at threads, and it seems Italians would rather use che tipo di (which, like in English, supercedes the quale tipo di).

    For example: What kind of restaurant do you want to go to tonight? = In che tipo di ristorante vuoi andare stasera?:tick: = In quale ristorante vuoi andare stasera?:cross:

    If I translated this last one as, Which restaurant, it'd have a completely different meaning...as if there were a list of choices for restaurants. Maybe quale just lost some of the original qualis meaning.
    In fact:
    In quale ristorante vuoi andare stasera? = which/(what, incorrect but used) restaurant do you want to go to tonight?
    Indeed: quale/che tipo di = What kind of

    Uinni
     

    Necsus

    Senior Member
    Italian (Italy)
    From the thread "He asked her":
    Necsus said:
    Thank you for your corrections, DAH. However I'd need to know which/what* of them you made to correct real mistakes, and which/what* you made because it's a matter of taste. :)

    * I thought that 'which' is used only speaking of a narrow number of alternatives...
    Roo Boy said:
    Unfortunately there is not a rule about what preposition to use...:cross:
    Unfortunately there is not a rule about which preposition to use... :tick:

    What preposition to use with intransitive verbs...:cross:
    Which preposition to use with intransitive verbs... :tick:

    I'm not sure what the rule is - the above with ticks just sound correct. It wouldn't matter whether there were a million prepositions from which to choose, "which" would still be correct.
    Does a rule exist?
     

    TimeHP

    Senior Member
    Italian - Italy
    Io uso which quando è sottintesa una scelta tra un gruppo di cose, oggetti, persone, ecc.
    What è più generico.

    Che libro leggi? = What
    Quali libro scegli? = Which

    Ciao.
     

    Birkof

    Member
    Italian
    ciaoa tutti,
    non riesco a capire bene quando si usa "what" e quando "which"..qualcuno mi puo' aiutare? Mi spiego..Se volessi dire "quali sono le ragioni piu' importanti", posso dire "what are the more important reasons?" oppure e' meglio "which are the more important reasons?"

    Grazie dell'attenzione
     

    Siberia

    Senior Member
    UK-Wales - English
    Di solito "which" si utilizza quando c'è una scelta da fare.
    The Halton Hotel is in Greenwich and the Holton is in Pimlico. Which one are you staying at?

    N.B.
    The MOST important
     

    Never Got a Dinner

    Senior Member
    America, English
    Di solito "which" si utilizza quando c'è una scelta da fare.
    The Halton Hotel is in Greenwich and the Holton is in Pimlico. Which one are you staying at?
    Sí, son d'accordo con quella spiegazione.

    "Which" ha il senso di "which one," cioè quale fra un gruppo di cose.

    I would like some ice cream.
    We have three flavors. Which one would you like?
    OR What flavor would you like.
    Ma NON puoi dire What one would you like?

    Allora, c'è un altro uso di "which" del quale devi stare un po' attento.

    Bach is a composer that pleases me very much. Corretto.
    Bach is a composer which pleased me very much. Sbagliato.
    Bach is a great composer -- VIRGOLA -- which is why I love his music. Corretto.

    In generale, "which" dev'essere preceduto da una virgola.

    Lasciando stare that/which e tornando a what/which:

    What are you doing? Corretto.
    Which are you doing? Assolutamente sbagliato.
    -I'm going to see a movie.
    -Which one are you going to see?
    -Which are you going to see?
    -Which movie are you going to see?
    -What are you going to see?

    Tutti quelli sono possibili.

    -What movie are you going to see?

    Un po' colloquiale, quello. Ma non male. Which movie ... What movie ... Ma ricordati che which sempre implica una selezione.

    -What are you doing? Cosa fai?
    -Which job are you doing (of your many jobs)? Quale lavoro stai facendo (da tutti i suoi lavori)?

    -What is that? Cos'è quello?
    -Which one is that? Quale è quello?

    Ti ho chiarificato oppure obfuscato le cose?
     

    shamblesuk

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Sí, son d'accordo con quella spiegazione.

    "Which" ha il senso di "which one," cioè quale fra un gruppo di cose.

    I would like some ice cream.
    We have three flavors. Which one would you like?
    OR What flavor would you like.
    Ma NON puoi dire What one would you like?

    Allora, c'è un altro uso di "which" del quale devi stare un po' attento.

    Bach is a composer that pleases me very much. Corretto. Davvero, non è 'who' in questo caso?
    Bach is a composer which pleased me very much. Sbagliato.
    Bach is a great composer -- VIRGOLA -- which is why I love his music. Corretto.

    In generale, "which" dev'essere preceduto da una virgola.

    Lasciando stare that/which e tornando a what/which:

    What are you doing? Corretto.
    Which are you doing? Assolutamente sbagliato.
    -I'm going to see a movie.
    -Which one are you going to see?
    -Which are you going to see?
    -Which movie are you going to see?
    -What are you going to see?

    Tutti quelli sono possibili.

    -What movie are you going to see?

    Un po' colloquiale, quello. Ma non male. Which movie ... What movie ... Ma ricordati che which sempre implica una selezione.

    -What are you doing? Cosa fai?
    -Which job are you doing (of your many jobs)? Quale lavoro stai facendo (da tutti i suoi lavori)?

    -What is that? Cos'è quello?
    -Which one is that? Quale è quello?

    Ti ho chiarificato oppure obfuscato le cose?
     

    road77

    Member
    Italy
    Hi all!

    Sto traducendo alcune domande relative alla comunicazione d'impresa, che si rivolge a diversi tipi di pubblici e che utilizza diverse tecniche di comunicazione.

    Le domande sono:
    Con quali stakeholders comunicare?
    Quali tecniche di comunicazione utilizzare?


    In entrambi i casi il soggetto è sottinteso ed è l'impresa.
    Il mio obiettivo è essere sintetico al massimo dato che tali domande vanno inserite all'interno di una figura.

    Ecco i miei tentativi:

    What/which stakeholder groups [does the company] communicate with?
    What/which communication techniques [does the company] use?


    They sound not so English, I know...

    Grazie per l'aiuto

    :)
     

    fabry2811

    Senior Member
    Italy - Italian
    Sono indeciso sui verbi che hai utilizzato, vanno bene ma forse ce ne sono altri più "eleganti".

    In tutti e due i casi metterei which ma ho dei seri dubbi a riguardo.

    Sono curioso di sapere come va a finire!!!
     

    MünchnerFax

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    Which si usa quando si deve scegliere all'interno di un insieme ristretto e già noto. Per esempio, se dicessi: "Ci sono le tecniche di comunicazione A, B e C. In questo caso, quali tecniche utilizziamo?", allora il pronome giusto è which, perché la scelta è ristretta e soprattutto hai già elencato le opzioni e vuoi che si scelga una di quelle.

    Se invece, come mi pare di capire sia il caso qui, la domanda è generica, allora il pronome è what.

    Lo stesso vale per gli stakeholders. Li hai elencati e sono due o tre (o anche sette o otto, non è importante il numero, quanto il fatto che sia una quantità limitata)? Allora è which. Altrimenti è what.
     

    road77

    Member
    Italy
    Grazie Munchner...allora è which perchè c'è un elenco finito...ma la domande sono comprensibili se tolgo "does the company"?
     
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