Italian Language/use of: "che cosa"

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Question
Dear Maria,

Thank you, again, for your help with my previous question in regards to the following sentence:

Apprezzo moltissimo il fatto che tu mi abbia detto che cosa avrei dovuto scrivere.
I very much appreciate that you told me what I should have written.

Please note that I am very grateful that you have made me aware that “che cosa” should be used in this sentence.      I had not previously understood that “che cosa” can be used as a relative pronoun to mean the same as the English relative pronoun “what”.  

Just to make sure that I now understand correctly, would you please verify for me that “che cosa” is being used as a relative pronoun in this sentence to mean “what”.

If this is correct, would you please also tell me if I am now correct to  think that “che”,  “che cosa”, and “cosa” can all be used as relative pronouns,  and that depending upon the context of the sentence,  they are equivalent to  -  “that”, “which”, “who”, “whom”,  or  “what”.

Thank you very much


Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,

In the sentence “Apprezzo moltissimo il fatto che tu mi abbia detto che cosa avrei dovuto scrivere” (I very much appreciate that you told me what I should have written)  the pronoun “che cosa” is used as a relative pronoun to mean the same as the English relative pronoun “what”.  

So, you are  correct in  thinking that “che”,  “che cosa”, and “cosa” can all be used as relative pronouns,  and that depending upon the context of the sentence,  so that they are equivalent to  “what”, as in the following examples:” Non sapeva cosa dire” /”Non sapeva che dire”/”Non sapeva che cosa dire” (He did not know what to say); “Non capisco cosa vogliono”/ Non capisco  che cosa vogliono”/  “Non capisco che vogliono”(I don’t understand what they want ); “Mi domando cosa te ne importi”/Mi domando che cosa te ne importi”/ “Mi domando che te ne importi” (I’m wondering what  you care);etc.

But you are wrong in thinking that “che cosa” and “cosa” are equivalent to  “that”, “which”, “who”, “whom”, whereas it is  the relative pronoun “che” without “cosa” that can correspond to “that”, “which”, “who”, “whom” as in e.g. :”Quelli CHE desiderano parlare, parlino pure” ( those WHO want to speak can do so); “La donna  CHE hai  visto è la direttrice” ( the woman  that /whom you saw to is the headmistress);“C’è un problema che vorrei discutere”( There’s a problem which I’d like to discuss); “La politica è un argomento che non m’interessa” ( Politics is a subject that/which  doesn’t interest me), etc.

Best regards,

Maria  

Italian Language

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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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