Stop saying PERCHÉ in Italian: Learn all ALTERNATIVES and SYNONYMS to say WHY in Italian

We’re back with another video in the “Smettila di dire…” series, and this time we’re going to talk about the little word “because”, one of those words that, when you wonder how to replace them, seem to have few alternatives. Actually, as we’ll see, it’s always possible to say things in many different ways, and this word is no exception either. In this video I’ll show you the alternatives to “because” in all its different uses, obviously giving lots of examples.

Facebook logo Instagram logo Twitter logo YouTube logo TikTok Logo Pinterest logo

How to say WHY in Italian

Let’s start with the basics right away: “because” is an interrogative adverb (used in questions) and a conjunction (used in subordinates), usually expressing causal or final relationships. In other words, the word “because” is used to ask or explain the cause or purpose of something.

As an interrogative adverb 

Let’s first look at the different possible ways to replace “because” in interrogative sentences:

1) PER QUALE RAGIONE?

One of the simplest and most intuitive alternatives is “per quale ragione” (for what reason), which is used in mostly formal contexts, and rarely in colloquial contexts. After all, what we want to know is precisely the reason why a certain thing happened. Let’s look at an example.

“Mi dica, signor Rossi, per quale ragione è arrivato in ritardo alla riunione stamattina? Crede forse di poter fare come le pare?”

“Tell me, Mr. Rossi, for what reason did you arrive late to the meeting this morning? Do you think you can do as you please?”

2) PER CHE/QUALE MOTIVO?

Very similar to the previous one, “per quale motivo” is also used a bit more frequently in colloquial contexts, although it still possesses a slight formal nuance.

“Luca, scusa, ma per quale motivo continui a guardarmi? Vuoi una foto?”

“Luca, sorry, but for what reason do you keep looking at me? Do you want a picture?”

3) A CHE/QUALE SCOPO?

Again, these are two markedly formal alternatives, but it is not uncommon to hear them in more colloquial contexts as well.

“Sì, ho capito che hai comprato un capannone enorme, ma a che scopo? Cioè, cosa ci devi fare?”

“Yes, I get that you bought a huge shed, but for what purpose? I mean, what are you going to do with it?”

4) COME MAI?

“Come mai” is a very valid alternative to “because”, and is used very frequently in all registers of the Italian language, especially in colloquial contexts. The meaning is identical to that of “because”, without particular nuances.

”Come mai hai chiamato la polizia? È successo qualcosa di grave?”

“How come you called the police? Did something serious happen?”

Of course, it is important to point out that all the alternatives we have seen for interrogatives can be used to bring questions back into indirect speech. Let’s look at a few examples:

“L’unica cosa che non ho capito è per quale motivo abbia deciso di trasferirsi.”

“The only thing I didn’t understand is why you decided to move.”

“Oggi ho incontrato tua madre e mi ha chiesto come mai non fossi andato a scuola stamattina.”

“I met your mother today and she asked me why you hadn’t gone to school this morning.”

“Rimane da chiarire per quale ragione il pluriomicida abbia deciso di consegnarsi alla polizia.”

“The question remains as to what reason the multiple murderer decided to turn himself in to the police.”

“Ho cercato di scoprire a quale scopo ti avesse chiesto di aiutarla, ma non mi ha voluto rivelare nulla”

“I tried to find out for what purpose she had asked you to help her, but she would not reveal anything to me.”

 

Also, when in indirect speech you report a question introduced by why, there are two alternatives:

The first is to keep the word why.

“Comunque non mi ha spiegato perché abbia deciso di sposarlo così in fretta.”

“Anyway, she didn’t explain to me why she decided to marry him so quickly.”

The second option is to replace “because” with “the reason/the reason why”.

”Comunque non mi ha spiegato il motivo per cui abbia deciso di sposarlo così in fretta.”

“However, she did not explain to me why she decided to marry him so quickly.”

WARNING: You cannot say “the reason/reason why”: either use just “because” or “the reason/reason + why”.

In subordinate sentences…

In subordinate sentences, the conjunction “because” introduces an explanation. In this case, “because” has a lot of possible synonyms. Let’s see them together.

As a causal conjunction

If we use because as a causal conjunction (i.e. to introduce the explanation of the reasons, of the causes of a certain event), then the alternatives can be:

1) POICHÉ

The conjunction “poiché” is used without any change of meaning as a synonym of “because”. The only difference is in the usage: in fact, you should know that, in this case, “poiché” can never be used at the beginning of the sentence, but only in the middle (“Mangio poiché ho fame” ”I eat because I am hungry” and not ”Poiché ho fame mangio”, “Because I am hungry, I eat”). “Because”, on the other hand, can be safely used at the beginning of the sentence as well as in the middle. Usually, however, it is found mostly in formal or literary contexts.

“Le dichiarai il mio amore senza remore, poiché sapevo che mai più l’avrei rivista”

“I declared my love to her without hesitation, because I knew I would never see her again.”

2) SICCOME

“Siccome” is the decidedly more colloquial version of “since.” You can use it in the same ways (so either at the beginning in the sentence or in the middle) but you can also find it safely in more colloquial contexts.

“Siccome ho già troppe spese questo mese, non posso venire in vacanza con voi”

“Since I already have too many expenses this month, I can’t go on vacation with you.”

3) DATO CHE / VISTO CHE

Parallel to since, but in colloquial contexts, it is very frequent to use “dato che” and “visto che” in place of the conjunction “because”.

”Ne ho comprate 4 confezioni, dato che c’era lo sconto”

“I bought 4 packs, since there was a discount.”

”“Visto che abbiamo tempo, possiamo fare una passeggiata più lunga”

“Since we have time, we can take a longer walk.”

4) TANTO

To understand how to use this alternative correctly, I invite you to look at the lesson dedicated exclusively to the word TANTO in Italian.

5) PER IL (SEMPLICE) FATTO CHE

Usually, with this expression we want to indicate that the reason for a certain action or event is rather obvious and obvious. “Simple” can actually be omitted, but you will notice that in colloquial language it is used very frequently.

“Io con lei non ci voglio lavorare, per il semplice fatto che l’ultima volta che mi ha visto non la smetteva di lanciarmi frecciatine e fare commenti sul mio taglio di capelli. Ma chi si crede di essere?”

“I don’t want to work with her, for the simple fact that the last time she saw me she wouldn’t stop throwing jibes at me and making comments about my haircut. Who does she think she is?”

With final value

When, on the other hand, the conjunction “because” has a purely final value, that is, it explains or clarifies the purpose of a certain action, then it can be replaced with:

6) AFFINCHÉ, COSICCHÉ

These two alternatives have a slightly more formal undertone.

“L’ho tartassato di domande affinché mi confessasse tutto.”

“I grilled him with questions so that he would confess everything to me.”

“Ho regalato una nuova bicicletta a mia figlia cosicché possa imparare a pedalare senza le rotelle di sostegno.”

“I gave my daughter a new bicycle so that she could learn to ride without the support wheels.”

Warning! “Because” and “so that” can replace “because” in explicit subordinates (i.e., with a finite, conjugated verb) , but you can also express the same meanings with implicit subordinates (i.e., with an infinitive verb). “Because”, in this case, can be substituted by in order to, for the purpose of, so by, in a way by. Let’s look at some examples:

“L’ho tartassato di domande al fine di / allo scopo di ottenere delle risposte.”

“I tarred him with questions in order to get answers.”

“Ho regalato una nuova bicicletta a mia figlia, così da / in modo da permetterle di imparare a pedalare senza le rotelle di sostegno.”

“I gave my daughter a new bicycle so that she could learn to ride without the support wheels.”

(NB: in these cases, the subject must be the same in the main sentence and the subordinate sentence!)

All clear? Good! Now don’t stop studying, though! There’s still something you need to know… Qual è la differenza tra INFINE, FINALMENTE e ALLA FINE.

 

Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!

 

Leave a Reply