INTERROGATIVE PRONOUNS (Pronomi interrogativi)
As the term implies, interrogative pronouns are used when asking questions. Because several of these pronouns are also used as adjectives accompanying a noun, then where appropriate, the examples show usage as both. We ask questions in many ways, some of which are asked differently in Italian to how they would be in English. As a result, we have included examples of how one would ask a particular type of question. As a further consequence of this, this article is split into three parts to reflect the categories Quantity; Specification; Identity. This part goes on to describe Pronouns of Quantity.
Pronouns of Quantity
When asking in respect of animals or things:
How much? How many? How long? How often? How far?
Which one you use depends on the gender and number of the noun to which they refer.
When asking in respect of people: How much? How many?
1 Pronoun: Quant’è?
How much is it?
2 Pronoun: Quanto costa questa camicia?
How much is this shirt?
3 Pronoun: Quanto mangia il tuo gatto?
How much does your cat eat?
4 Adjective: Quanto zucchero vuoi nel caffè?
How much sugar do you want in your coffee?
5 Pronoun: Quanti sono?
How many are they? / How many of them are there?
6 Pronoun: Che belle rose! Quante ne hai piantate?
What beautiful roses! How many (of them) did you plant/have you planted?
7 Adjective: Quante rose hai piantato?
How many roses did you plant/have you planted?
NOTE: In the example 6 ne means of them; ne is necessary in the Italian phrase, whereas of them is optional in the English. You can read more about this in the article entitled The Partitive Pronoun Ne. Note also that because ne refers to and takes the place of the plural noun rose, the feminine plural ending to the past participle of the verb piantare must be used. This is not necessary in the adjective example because the noun rose is used.
8 Pronoun: Quanti di voi hanno un’automobile?
How many of you have a car?
9 Adjective: Quanti fratelli hai?
How many brothers have you got?
Often in asking how many, how much, the pronoun or adjective is used with a preposition, as in the following examples.
10a Pronoun: Di quanto disponi?
10b Adjective: Di quanto denaro disponi?
Both phrases mean: How much money do you have (at your disposal)?
11a Pronoun: Con quanti sei venuti qui?
11b Adjective: Con quante persone sei venuti qui?
Both phrases mean: With how many people did you come?
Note that in both examples, each phrase is interchangeable, ie you can use either one perfectly correctly.
12 Pronoun: A quanti hai detto di stare a casa?
How many people have you told to stay at home?
13 Pronoun: Su quanti possiamo contare?
How many people can we count on?
Quanto can be used either as a pronoun or an adjective when asking how long, both in relation to time and to length.
14 Pronoun: Quanto ci vuole a mezzogiorno?
How long is it till noon/midday?
15 Pronoun: Quanto ci vuole per bollire un uovo?
How long does it take to boil an egg?
16 Adjective: Quanto tempo sei stato in Inghilterra?
(For) How long were you in England?
17 Pronoun: Quanto è lunga la grande muraglia cinese?
How long is the Great Wall of China?
Quanto a lungo can also be used as a pronoun in relation to time, for example:
18 Quanto a lungo vive un elefante?
How long does an elephant live for?
Quanto can only be used as an adjective when saying how often, as in the following examples:
19 Quanto spesso vai al cinema?
How often do you go to the cinema?
20 Quante volte vedi tuo figlio?
How often do you see your son?
When asking how far, quanto can only be used as a pronoun, as in the following examples:
21 Quanto c’è da qui a Firenze?
How far is it to Florence from here?
22 Quanto è distante la tua casa da qui?
How far is your house from here?
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