How to use CIOÈ in Italian

How do you use cioè in Italian? How does it work? Most importantly, what does it mean?

In this lesson, we will look at how to use this word with the help of many audio recordings and example sentences. Read on to learn all you need to know!

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Cioè in Italian

What is cioè in Italian and what does it mean?

Cioè in Italian is mainly used as a filler word, similar to the English filler word like. You can easily find it in the spoken language along with other fillers such as voglio dire (I mean) or be’ (well).

I mean, that is, that is, like

man thinking with crossed arms

Linguistically speaking, it’s made up of ciò (this/that) and è (it is). It means there is.

It has more than one translation in English. In Italian, it’s also used to add additional information to something we’ve just said or as a filler word to correct something you’ve just said.

When used as a filler, cioè can be translated as “I mean” or “that is to say”. As said, you can also translate “I mean” as voglio dire (literally I mean to say), but since this expression is longer, it’s less commonly used than cioè.

For example, you could say…

Non capisco cosa sia successo, cioè, prima ero in cucina e ora sono in salotto!
I don’t understand what happened, I mean, first I was in the kitchen and now I’m in the living room!

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Language: English / Italian
Publisher: For Dummies
Pages: 672

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Mi sento derubato, cioè, un pezzo di plastica mi è costato 200 euro!
I feel robbed, I mean, a piece of plastic cost me 200 euros!

Ho preso tutto l’occorrente per il campeggio, cioè la tenda, lo zaino e il fornellino.
I took all the camping supplies, that is to say, the tent, backpack, and stove.

Ho letto tutti i suoi libri, cioè, quasi tutti. Mi manca l’ultimo.
I have read all his books, I mean, almost all of them. I miss the last one.

Ci siamo svegliati, cioè, ci ha svegliati il gallo alle 6 di mattina.
We woke up, that is, the rooster woke us up at 6 in the morning.

a rooster facing left

Questions with cioè in Italian

Cioè can also be used alone to ask a question: cioè?. Ideally, you use it to ask for an explanation or more information about something, as in “meaning what?”. The inflection is also raised to match that of a question.

Meaning what? Meaning?

For example, you could say…

Ho adottato un animale. – Cioè? – Un pastore tedesco.
I have adopted an animal. – Meaning? – A German shepherd.

Giorgio ha mangiato poco ieri sera. – Cioè? – Ha mangiato un piattino di verdure.
George ate very little last night. – Meaning what? – He ate a small plate of vegetables.

plate with assorted vegetables

And that’s the end of our lesson on how to use cioè in Italian in all situations!

What next?

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