Relative conjunctions: dove (where), quando (when), come (how), quanto (how much), perché (why, because) and che (that)

Relative conjunctions allow us to add information about time, place, quantity and the way in which something is done and why.

Questo è il quartiere dove vivo.

This is the neighborhood where I live.

Sono agitata perché aspetto una telefonata importante.

I'm nervous because I'm expecting an important phone call.

To specify…

  • The time or moment, we use quando (when).

Siamo arrivati quando è iniziato a piovere.

We arrived when it started to rain.

  • The place, we use dove (where).

Milano è la città dove sono nata.

Milan is the city where I was born.

  • The way, means or method, we use come (like, how).

Prepara il cocktail come ti ho insegnato.

Make the cocktail like I taught you.

  • The amount or quantity, we use quanto/a/e/i (how much, as much as), which has to agree with the noun that follows and which, on the contrary, remains neutral before a verb.

Non riesco a vedere quante pagine hai scritto.

I can't see how many pages you've written.

Quanto vale questa casa?

How much is this house worth?

  • The reason, we use perché (because).

Mi chiedo perché ti comporti in questo modo.

I wonder why you behave in this way.

  • The explanation, we use che (that).

Ho saputo che è partito per Londra.

I heard that he left for London.


  • We can use prepositions (da, per, a, su, etc.) to make the relative conjunction even more specific.

Torna da dove sei venuto.

Go back to where you came from, literally, “go back from where you came”.

Non dirò nulla sul perché della tua scelta.

I won't say anything about why you chose it.

  • We can also use these words in questions, where they serve as interrogative pronouns or adverbs.

Quando arrivi a casa? – Arrivo alle 6.

-When do you arrive home? -I arrive at 6 o'clock.

Dove hai lasciato la borsa? – Sul comodino.

-Where did you leave the bag? -On the bedside table.

  • Some of these conjunctions can also be used as exclamations, often followed by an adjective, noun or verb, to express surprise or emphasise a concept.

Che bella giornata!

What a beautiful day!

Da quanto tempo non ci vediamo!

Long time no see! (literally, "since how much time we don't see one another!)

Come sei cresciuta!

How you've grown!

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