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Italian Mixed Relative Pronouns

Pronomi Relativi Misti in Italiano


In Italian, mixed relative pronouns (also referred to as double relative pronouns), which can function as either demonstrative or indefinite pronouns or as relative pronouns, connect two phrases. Mixed relative pronouns (pronomi relativi misti) are considered mixed because they act as both antecedent and relative pronoun simultaneously.

The pronoun chi (who) refers only to living beings, never to things; is invariable, and is used only in the singular, whether masculine or feminine (gender can be derived from the context or grammatical agreement). The pronoun chi is a mixed relative pronoun because it can function as two different pronoun types: as demonstrative (colui, quello, colei, quella) or indefinite (qualcuno, uno, qualcuna, una), and as relative (che, il quale, la quale). Chi is unique in that it is the only relative pronoun that can be used in an absolute form, i.e., without being preceded by a noun:

Chi (= colui che) studia è promosso.
Whoever studies is promoted.

C'è chi (= qualcuno che) crede ancora alla befana.
There is someone who still believes in the Befana.

The plural is used in the compound forms coloro che and alcuni che:

Coloro che studiano sono promossi.
Those who study are promoted.

Ci sono alcuni che credono ancora alla befana.
There are some who still believe in the Befana.

The "double relative pronoun" (pronome relativo doppio) chi can be:

  • object both of the main clause and the relative clause: Ho riconosciuto chi hai salutato.—I recognized who you greeted.
  • object of the main clause, subject of the relative clause: Non trovavo chi mi desse una mano.—I could not find who would give me a hand.
  • subject of the main clause, object of the relative clause: Non ti è nemmeno riconoscente chi hai aiutato.—You are not even grateful to those who have helped.
  • indirect object of the main clause, subject of the relative clause: Non regalo niente a chi non se lo merita.—I do not give a gift to those who do not deserve it.
  • indirect object of the main clause and the relative clause, when the complement of the main clause and that of the relative clause require the same preposition: Sono stato ricevuto da chi (=da colui dal quale) mi hai mandato—I was accommodated by that man whom you sent me to.

Other than these instances, the compound forms must be used: Cerca di fare qualcosa per colui del quale ti ho parlato; Non posso andare d'accordo con uno di cui non hi stima.

The pronoun chi may have also be used in the hypothetical, and imply se qualcuno, se uno:

Chi me l'avesse detto, gli avrei riso in faccia.
If someone had told me, I would have laughed in his face.

Domani, chi non lo sapesse, è festa.
Tomorrow, for those who didn't know, is a holiday.

Sometimes chi is equivalent to chiunque (anyone, whoever, anybody, whichever):

L'ingresso è gratuito, può entrare chi vuole (or chi voglia).
Admission is free for whoever wants to enter.

The correlative pair chi…chi is equivalent to l'uno...l'altro, gli uni...gli altri, alcuni...altri:

Chi dice una cosa, chi un'altra.
Some say one thing, some another.

Chi ci crede, chi no.
There are those who believe, and those who do not.

Chi va e chi viene.
Some come and some go.

Chi preferisce il mare, chi la montagna.
There are those who prefer the sea, and those the mountain.

The pronoun quanto (what, all that, everyone, everybody, all those who, those who) has the same function as demonstrative and relative types. The singular is used with a neutral value; it refers only to things and therefore corresponds to (tutto) quello che, (tutto) ciò che (what, all that):

Farò quanto è possibile.
I will do all that is possible.

Per quanto mi riguarda, sono d'accordo.
For what pertains to me, I agree.

C'è molto di vero in quanto dici.
There is much truth in what you say.

È quanto di meglio si possa trovare.
It is the best you can find.

Common elliptical phrases with the pronoun quanto include: "Questo è quanto" (Tutto ciò che c'era da dire); "A conferma di quanto sopra" (Di quello che si è detto sopra).

The plural is used in the forms quanti and quante, which may refer both to people and to things and is equivalent to (tutti) quelli che, (tutte) quelle che (everyone, everybody, all those who, those who):

Quanti desiderano iscriversi devono presentare la domanda.
All those who wish to enroll must submit the application.

La festa è riservata a quanti hanno ricevuto l'invito.
The party is reserved for those who have received the invitation.

Prendine quanti te ne occorrono.
Take however many you need.

Dammene quante ti pare.
Give me what you want.

Other Mixed Relative Pronouns
In addition to chi and quanto, other Italian mixed relative pronouns include chiunque (=tutti/e quelli/e che, qualunque persona che) and ovunque/dovunque (=in qualunque/qualsiasi luogo in cui).

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