Italian Language/use of "chi"


Dear Maria,

Would you please tell me if the following sentence is correct or not:

Chi è il tuo amico?
Who is your friend?

I just want to make sure that I have understood correctly and that a preposition is not needed to be placed before the word “chi”.

Thank you very much.



Dear Rich,

you have understood correctly:a preposition is not needed to be placed before the word “chi” in “Chi è il tuo amico?” (Who is your friend?) because the interrogative pronoun “chi” is the subject  of the question-clause and thus, as a subject,  needs no preposition, which is needed to be placed before “chi” only when there is an indirect object as in e.g. "Di chi stai parlando?", "A chi ti sei rivolto?", etc.

In short, a preposition is needed to be placed before the interrogative pronoun “chi” only when there is a verb or a noun that require a preposition as in e.g. “Tra chi c’era rivalità?” where “tra chi” is an indirect object depending on “rivalità”.

The same happens in English where you say “Who is your friend?” (Chi è il tuo amico?) without a preposition before “who” as this pronoun is the subject of the question clause, whereas you say “Of whom are you talking?” (Di chi stai parlando?), “To whom do you refer?” (A chi ti riferisci? ), “Between whom was there rivalry?” (Tra chi c’era rivalità?) with a preposition before “whom” because “of whom”(di chi), “to whom” (a chi), “between whom” (tra chi) are indirect objects.

To sum up,the interrogative pronoun "chi" is preceded by a preposition only when it is an indirect object such as "A chi...?", "Con chi...?", "Di chi...?", "Tra chi...?", "Per chi...?",  "In chi...?", "Da chi...?", "Su chi...?".

Best regards,


Italian Language

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

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