What happened in Italian

How exactly do you say what happened in Italian?

In this lesson, we will take a closer look at how to translate this sentence into Italian. Read on to find out!


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How do you say what happened in Italian?

Cos’è successo?

Cos’è successo? is the most common way to translate what happened into Italian. You will also find the variation che è successo?.

Cos’è successo?
What happened?

Che è successo?
What happened?

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This common sentence in Italian is made up of three elements.

Cosa, che

It is


Cos’è successo? – Si è rotta la catena della bici.
What happened? – The bicycle chain broke.

Che è successo? – Un cane ha morso un gatto.
What happened? – A dog bit a cat.

In colloquial speech, cosa is often shortened to cos’, with an apostrophe, when it immediately precedes a verb beginning with a vowel. You could also ask cosa è successo, but this is very formal and it doesn’t come naturally when speaking.

You could say cosa è successo, for example, to emphasize one word at a time or to speak slower so that people can understand you.

È comes from essere, to be, which is a verb that belongs to the second -ere group. Its indicativo presente conjugation is irregular and is as follows.

Present tense conjugation for essere

lui, leiè

Il cane corre in giardino.
The dog runs in the garden.

Sono andata al supermercato per comprare le uova, ma le avevano finite.
I went to the supermarket to buy eggs, but they were out of eggs.

to be continued... movie that has just ended at the theater - what happened in italian

Successo has a double function in Italian.

It can be a masculine noun, il successo, which means success.

La recita è stata un successo strepitoso.
The play was a resounding success.

And it is the past participle of the verb succedere, which means to happen.

La corrente elettrica va spesso via. Ormai succede ogni giorno.
The electricity often goes out. It happens every day now.

Cosa succede?

In addition to cos’è successo?, cosa succede? and che succede? are other popular translations for what happened in Italian.

However, instead of focusing on the past, they focus on the present. That’s why the verb succedere is conjugated here as a third-person present tense (succede). This literally translates as what happens?.

Cosa succede?
What is happening?
Literally: What happens?

Che succede?
What is happening?

Cosa succede ogni tre settimane?
What happens every three weeks?

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Cosa sta succedendo?

Last but not least, you can also translate what happened in Italian as a gerund with cosa sta succedendo?, which is a literal translation of what it happening?. The variant with che is also popular.

Ideally, you use this to emphasize your question, as in “what is happening here?”, che sta succedendo qui?.

It can also translate the English sentence what’s going on?.

Cosa sta succedendo?
What is happening? What’s going on?

Che sta succedendo?
What is happening?

Bambini, che sta succedendo? Cos’è questo rumore?
Kids, what’s going on? What is that noise?

And that’s the end of our lesson on how to say what happened in Italian!

What next?

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