Formal demonstrative pronouns: colui (he, the one), colei (she, the one), coloro (these, the ones) and costui (he, the one), costei (she, the one), costoro (those, the ones)

We sometimes use the following pronouns to replace the name of a person or a group of people (he, she, they, this one, that one, etc.), especially in more formal contexts:


from the speaker or listener


to the speaker or listener


Colui che ha deciso non ha considerato le nostre richieste.

He who made the decision did not consider our demands.

Non voglio avere niente a che fare con costei.

I don't want to have anything to do with her.

Vincono solo coloro che si allenano duramente.

Only those who train hard win.

It's important to remember the following when we use these pronouns:

  • They're often followed by the relative pronouns che or il/la/le/i quali (in which case it needs to agree).

Coloro che/i quali desiderano iscriversi devono farlo entro le 10.

Those who wish to register must do so by 10am.

Chi è costei che/la quale grida?

Who's that (girl/woman) shouting?

  • They can often be used in a derogatory tone or to maintain a certain distance from the people being talked about.

Chi sono costoro che osano insultarci?

Who are those that dare to insult us?

Colui che ha parlato è un criminale.

He who spoke is a criminal.

  • In informal contexts, they're often replaced by the demonstrative pronouns quello/a/i/e (that, those).

Colei/quella che ha parlato è mia sorella.

The one who spoke is my sister.

Coloro/quelli che lavorano nel mio ufficio sono grandi professionisti.

Those who work in my office are great professionals.

  • In spoken Italian in particular, they're often replaced by chi + lui/lei (he/she) form of the verb. We never use che (that) after the pronoun chi (who).

Coloro che arrivano/Chi arriva prima, riceveranno/riceverà un premio.

Those who arrive/Whoever arrives first will receive a prize.

Non parlo con colei che/chi ha fatto quelle dichiarazioni.

I don't speak to the one who made those statements.

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