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.
The demonstrative pronoun Ciò.
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.)
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!
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