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QUESTION: Dear Maria,

I am trying to understand the use of the word “chi” in the following sentence.  

l’uso della preposizione “a” prima del verbo “festeggiare” nella frase “Ha davvero significato molto per me avervi con noi a festeggiare la prossima nascita della nostra bimba” è determinato dalla presenza dell’infinito “avervi”  che indica uno stato, cioè indica che è stato molto importante per chi ha scritto la frase avere accanto a sé a festeggiare  la persona cui è indirizzata la sopraddetta frase.

In the past I have seen “chi” used as an interrogative pronoun.  

Since this is not an interrogative sentence, I am wondering if “chi” is a relative pronoun in:   “...molto importante per chi ha scritto la frase

If “yes”, would you please help me to understand why “chi” is used in this sentence instead of the Italian relative pronoun - “che”.

I am also wondering if the following translation is correct -
... very important for "whoever" has written the sentence ...  

In the past I had translated this sentence as   ... very important for "who" has written the sentence ..., but now I am wondering if "whoever" is a more accurate translation  than "who".   

Could this be why the relative pronoun “chi” is used instead of the relative pronoun “che”?   Does “chi” mean “whoever”?   And, does “che” not mean “whoever”?

I know my attempt to understand the use of “chi” in this sentence is a fine point, so I hope you do not mind my questions.  I very much appreciate all your help.

Sincerely,

Rich

ANSWER: Dear Rich,

the word “chi” in the  sentence:”L’’uso della preposizione “a” prima del verbo “festeggiare” nella frase “Ha davvero significato molto per me avervi con noi a festeggiare la prossima nascita della nostra bimba” è determinato dalla presenza dell’infinito “avervi”  che indica uno stato, cioè indica che è stato molto importante per CHI ha scritto la frase avere accanto a sé a festeggiare  la persona cui è indirizzata ...” is exactly a RELATIVE DEMONSTRATIVE  as it stands for “colui che/colui il quale/quello che”  as in “....è stato molto importante per COLUI IL QUALE/COLUI CHE /QUELLO CHE ha scritto la frase....”.

In this context, in fact, the term “chi” is not an interrogative pronoun, since this is not an interrogative sentence, as you say correctly.

Also, in this context we cannot use the simple “che” as a relative pronoun for the relative pronoun “che” must always refer to another word that usually precedes the “che” as in e.g.: “Dammi, per favore,  il LIBRO CHE sta sulla scrivania” (give me please the book that's on the desk), “Tutti gli ANIMALI  CHE  abbiamo citato sono in via di estinzione”, “Il DUOMO  di Milano,  CHE visiteremo domani, è un capolavoro di architettura gotica”, etc.

In short, when CHI stands for “COLUI IL QUALE/COLUI CHE  /QUELLO CHE, COLEI LA QUALE/COLEI CHE  /QUELLA CHE, or in the plural COLORO CHE/QUELLI CHE /QUELLE CHE, it is a RELATIVE DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUN, not a simple relative nor an interrogative pronoun.


As for  the translation “... very important for "whoever" has written the sentence ...”, I have to tell you that “whoever” corresponds to the INDEFINITE RELATIVE  pronoun CHIUNQUE or seldom CHI , but in an indefinite sense, as in e.g.“CHIUNQUE  abbia scritto quella lettera è un pazzo” (Whoever  wrote that letter is a fool), “CHI compra la casa dovrà riparare il tetto “, etc. where CHIUNQUE and CHI refer to an indefinite person, while in  “...indica che è stato molto importante per CHI ha scritto la frase avere accanto a sé...”  CHI refers to the person who wrote such a phrase.


To sum up, please note that:

1-the demonstrative relative pronoun “chi” is not used instead of the relative pronoun “che”.

2-“chi” means “whoever” only when it stands for “chiunque”.  

3-“che” does not mean “whoever”.

Best regards,
Maria



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Maria,

Thank you for your help with this question.  I very much appreciate the thorough answer you have given me.  I hope that you will not mind a follow-up question.

Can you please tell me what is meant by a relative demonstrative pronoun.

I know about “relative” pronouns and I know about “demonstrative” pronouns - but what is a “relative demonstrative” pronoun.  I have not been able to find this classification of pronoun in any of my reference books, and so far I have not found any information about this classification of pronoun on-line.

I am having the same problem with the classification “indefinite relative” pronoun.

I’m sorry to bother you with these questions.  Obviously, I understand that you cannot write an entire grammar lesson on these classifications.  But, if you could just give me some idea of what these terms refer to -  I would be very, very appreciative.  

One of my reference books said that “chi” can be a relative pronoun, but I cannot find any information about “relative demonstrative” pronouns in English or Italian.

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,

a relative demonstrative pronoun  (Italian, “pronome dimostrativo-relativo”) is a pronoun that joins two pronouns, i.e. the demonstrative and the relative such as “quello che”/”colui il quale”/quella che”/ “quelli che”/”coloro che” etc. where “quello”/”colui”/etc. are demonstrative pronouns, while “che”/”il quale”, etc. are relative pronouns.

So, when CHI stands for "quello che”/”colui il quale”/quella che”/ “quelli che”, etc, it is a relative demonstrative  pronoun as in “Chi ha fatto ciò ha fatto bene” (=Colui che/Quello che ha fatto...), “ Ho trovato chi mi può aiutare”(=Ho trovato quello che...),  “Regalalo a chi vuoi”, “Non prendertela con chi non ne ha colpa “, etc.


The same happens with the “indefinite relative” pronouns that join two pronouns, i.e. the indefinite and the relative pronoun such as “qualcuno che”  where “qualcuno” is an indefinite pronoun, while “che” is a relative pronoun.

So, when CHI stands for “qualcuno che”, it is an indefinite relative pronoun  as in “C'è chi dice che non ci si possa fidare di lui” (=C’è qualcuno che dice...), “Non trova chi lo possa aiutare” (=Non trova qualcuno che...), “Non c'è chi gli creda” (Non c’è qualcuno che...), etc.

Moreover CHI  can also correspond to  “chiunque” (“whoever”) with a nuance implying a supposition as in “Può andarci chi vuole” (= Può andarci chiunque..), “Chi mi ama mi segua (=Chiunque mi ama...), etc.

Lastly, I have to tell you that CHI can also be a correlative term as in “Chi la pensa in un modo, chi in un altro” (some have one idea, some have another) and an interrogative pronoun as in “ Chi  parla?”, “Chi sono i tuoi amici?”, etc.

Hope I gave you some idea of what the terms “relative demonstrative pronoun” and “relative indefinite pronoun”  refer to .

Kind regards,
Maria

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Maria

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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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I received my Ph.D.in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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