In this lesson I would like to introduce you to a word that is surely one of the very first ones that you have learnt in Italian: I’m talking about QUALCOSA. I’ve hit it, haven’t I? In fact, it’s a word for beginners. However, from my own experience, I can tell you that it raises many doubts and confusion and sometimes, even among those people with an advanced level of Italian! So now I will show you the 5 most common mistakes concerning QUALCOSA that foreigners make. And again, do not think that this video-lesson is only meant for beginners!
What does QUALCOSA mean?
Before taking a look at the most common mistakes, we have to understand the meaning.
QUALCOSA is, according to italian grammar, an indefinite pronoun. It comes from “qualche cosa” and it indicates in some non-specific way one or more things.
1 – QUALCOSA NUOVO, QUALCOSA NUOVA
These two probably represent the most common mistakes, from beginners to advanced learners. Indeed, both expressions are not correct.
In Italian, the pronoun QUALCOSA is never ever directly followed by an adjective. NEVER!
So, what do we do?
The correct way to build this type of sentences is:
QUALCOSA + preposition DI + masculine singular form of the adjective, always
Qualcosa di nuovo —> La mia vita è abbastanza tranquilla: non succede mai qualcosa di nuovo.
(Something/nothing new —> I lead a pretty quiet living: nothing new ever happens.)
Qualcosa di buono —> C’è qualcosa di buono da mangiare in frigo?
(Something good —> Is there something good to eat in the fridge?)
Qualcosa di chiaro —> Ho bisogno di qualcosa di chiaro da abbinare al mio vestito nero.
(Something clear —> I need something clear to match with my black dress.)
…and so on!
2 – UN QUALCOSA or UNA QUALCOSA?
It will sound strange, but the pronoun qualcosa can, in some cases, be preceded by the indefinite article.
But the problem is: masculine or feminine form?
Quando il pronome QUALCOSA è preceduto da un articolo indeterminativo, questo deve essere, ancora una volta, maschile singolare (un). When the pronoun QUALCOSA is preceded by an indefinite article, this must be, once again, in its masculine singular form (un).
In what cases do we use “un qualcosa”?
When we want to talk about something vague, a certain something. In short, the meaning is similar to “qualcosa”, but the article adds more vagueness, uncertainty. It refers to something that cannot be identified or described.
It can be followed by DI + masculine singular form of the adjective or it may as well be used alone.
Quella ragazza ha un qualcosa di famigliare, ma non riesco a ricordare dove io l’abbia già vista!
(That girl looks somehow familiar, but I can’t remember where I have already seen her!)
La proposta che ci ha fatto Luca ha un qualcosa che non mi convince. Lasciami qualche giorno in più per fare delle ricerche più approfondite.
(The offer Luca made us has something that does not convince me. Give me a couple more days to do some deeper research.)
3 – QUALCOSA È SUCCESSO or QUALCOSA È SUCCESSA?
According to what we have learnt so far, I think you already know the answer.
QUALCOSA requires a masculine verbal form, even with the past participle, even though the word “cosa” (feminine) can be misleading.
Dopo la morte di suo figlio, qualcosa in lui è cambiato: ora è sempre arrabbiato.
(After his son’s death, something inside him changed: now he’s always in a bad mood.)
Come mai sei così pensierosa? È successo qualcosa al lavoro? Ti va di parlarne?
(Why are you always so thoughtful? Did something happen at work? Would you like to talk about it?)
Avevamo pianificato tutto, ma alla fine qualcosa è andato storto e non siamo più partiti.
(We had everything planned, but in the end something went wrong and we didn’t leave.)
4 – ARE THERE PARTICULAR USES OF “QUALCOSA”?
The answer is yes!
It is mainly used in an ironic way.
This expression indicates a significant amount of something, in an exaggerated but ironic sense.
Ci abbiamo messo qualcosa come due anni per organizzare questa vacanza! Ma alla fine ce l’abbiamo fatta!
(It took us something like two years to plan this vacation! But in the end we managed to do it!)
Abbiamo pagato qualcosa come 10.000 euro per la festa! Assurdo!
(We payed something like 10.000 euro for the party! It’s crazy!)
Ci vogliono qualcosa come sette ore per arrivare a Firenze partendo da Bari.
(It takes something like seven hours to travel from Bari to Florence.)
Quel criminale ha ucciso qualcosa come trenta persone!
(That criminal killed something like thirty people!)
Qualcosa instead of qualcuno
Yes, you heard me well! It is possible to substitute “qualcuno” with “qualcosa”, when we refer to someone. But not always, of course!
It indicates someone important, but always ironically, because we want to express that he/she isn’t in fact so important in our opinion.
Si sente qualcosa solo perché guadagna qualche soldo in più di noi. Non sopporto le persone arroganti!
(He thinks he’s so important just because he earns more money than us. I can’t stand arrogant people!)
Tesoro, non sei nessuno! Se fossi qualcosa, adesso saresti nel reparto vip!
(Love, you are nobody! If you were someone big, now you would be in the celebrity department!)
5 – WHAT ABOUT… QUALCHE COSA?
Yes, all we said so far could lead to the following question: what would happen if we used “qualche cosa” instead of “qualcosa”?
Well, if we use the basic form, complete and made of two words, everything stated so far vanishes.
This means that “qualche cosa” follows the traditional rules. Therefore, since we have “qualche”, the verb must be singular. And since it is followed by “cosa”, all the possible adjectives and past participles must be in their feminine form.
Penso che qualche cosa sia caduta nella tua camera: ho sentito uno strano rumore.
(I think something dropped in your room: I heard a strange noise.)
Per la prossima campagna pubblicitaria, il capo vuole qualche cosa bella e colorata che attiri subito l’attenzione.
(For the next advertising campaign, the chief wants something great and colourful that will immediately catch attention.)
Now, take a look at our video-lesson about the 5 most common mistakes with trattarsi di. I can garantee you, there are some mistakes that practically anyone makes, even native Italian speakers.
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