Translated by Alanna Quintyne

In this article called “the word Ciò in Italian”, I am going to talk about this word pretty common in the written and spoken Italian. It is a demonstrative pronoun, and in the following lines, I will explain how to use it and the mistake to avoid.

This is a word commonly used by Italians not only in speech but also in its written form, and it seems impossible that such a small word could create so many doubts. Yet this is what happened to one of my students, who was eager for clarification on this term.

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The demonstrative pronoun C.

So, ciò is nothing more than a demonstrative pronoun and it can be used in place of questo and quello. For example:

  • Tutto ciò non porterà a nulla di buono! – Tutto questo non porterà a nulla di buono! (All this will lead to no good!)
  • Ciò che ha detto quell’uomo non ha alcun senso! – Quello che ha detto quell’uomo non ha alcun senso! (What that man said doesn’t make any sense!)

This word is often followed by che, a word which is omnipresent in the Italian language!

  • Ciò che mi hai raccontato non è la verità. (What you told me is not the truth!)
  • Ciò che mi infastidisce di più è la mancanza di buonsenso. (What bothers me more is the lack of common sense.)

Attention!

Use ciò only as a demonstrative pronoun and never as an adjective. This basically means that ciò cannot be used next to a noun, as in the following examples:

  • Ciò pizza è molto buona!
  • Ciò situazione non era più tollerabile!

Well, needless to say, from these sentences you can immediately tell that something is wrong. I think it’s possible to notice it easily even if you don’t know the word well. In fact, as I always tell my students, trust your ear! If there is a phrase that sounds strange to you, it most likely really is! So, to avoid eliciting mocking smiles, it’s best to say:

  • Questa pizza è molto buona! (This pizza is very good!)
  • Quella situazione non era più tollerabile! (This situation was no longer tolerable!)

I hope this brief explanation has helped you to clarify any doubts you had about the word ciò. I believe that it is quite simple and intuitive. However, it is not uncommon to fixate on a word, even a rather trivial one, and make its use much more complex than it really is, just like what happened to my student!

ila firma

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