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Saturday
Nov172007

italian relative pronouns 1: che

First of all, let's goof-proof this week's grammar topic - what is a "relative pronoun"? Well, like all pronouns it's a short word that stands in for a noun (a person, place or thing).

We've seen quite a few other pronouns already...

Subject pronouns (io, tu, lui, lei, etc.) that stand in for a noun doing an action...

Direct object pronouns (mi, ti, lo, la, etc.) that stand in for a noun receiving an action...

Reflexive pronouns (mi, ti, si, ci, vi, etc.), that stand in for a noun that both does and receives an action at the same time.

But what are relative pronouns? Pronouns that stand in for an aunt or uncle? No!

When you have two simple sentences...

in which a single noun gets repeated...

you use a relative pronoun to replace one instance of the noun, so that you avoid the repetition...

while at the same time joining the two choppy sentences into a single more fluid one, so you sound smoother and more articulate.

For example...

This is a house.

Jack built this house.

Here we have two short choppy sentences in which the noun "house" clumsily gets repeated. By using the English relative pronoun"that," we join them into a single smoother, more fluid sentence and eliminate the repetition...

This is the house that Jack built.

See that? One sentence, one use of "house" - nice and smooth and efficient. That's a Toyota Way sentence vs the U.S. Big Three. Let's see some more examples...

I read a book. My friend Lenny wrote the book.

I read a book that my friend Lenny wrote.

I bought a Ford. The Ford doesn't run.

I bought a Ford that doesn't run.

My friend drives a '94 Tercel. The '94 Tercel runs great.

My friend drives a '94 Tercel that runs great.

Get the picture?

Now, it's important to realize that "that" isn't the only English relative pronoun - there are many. But it's the one we're going to learn the Italian equivalent of today, which is "che."

So how do you know when to use "that" (or che) vs another relative pronoun? Well, when the repeating noun you're replacing is either the subject or the direct object of the clause, you use che.

Doesn't matter if the noun is masculine or feminine, singular or plural, a person or a thing - as long as it's a subject or direct object, you replace it with che. Let's see some examples...

Ho conosciuto una ragazza italiana. La ragazza italiana parla cinese.

Ho conosciuto una ragazza italiana che parla cinese. (OR - La ragazza italiana che ho conosciuto parla cinese.)

Siamo andati a vedere un film. Il film non mi è piaciuto.

Siamo andati a vedere un film che non mi è piaciuto. (OR - Il film che siamo andati a vedere non mi è piaciuto.)

Tua mamma ci fa la pizza. La pizza fa schifo.

La pizza che ci fa tua mamma fa schifo.

Hopefully you get it! Next update we'll tackle another relative pronoun. C4N!

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