How exactly do you say who are you in Italian? What is more appropriate to say depending on the relationship between you and the other person?
In this lesson, we will take a look at the different ways you can translate this sentence into Italian. Read on to learn them all!
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How do you say who are you in Italian?
Singular: Chi sei?
Chi sei? is how you translate who are you in Italian when you are talking to a person you know well and are on familiar terms with.
Who are you? (singular, informal)
This common sentence in Italian is made of only two elements.
Chi sei? – Sono il fratello di Alessandro. Sono venuto a portarti questo pacco.
Who are you? – I’m Alessandro’s brother. I’ve come to give you this package.
Chi sei? – Sono tua sorella! Non mi riconosci?!
Who are you? – I am your sister! Don’t you recognize me?!
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As you may already know, verb endings change for all subject pronouns in Italian, so you can actually do without pronouns in the sentence. The subject is understood thanks to the verb ending!
Sei is a conjugation of the verb essere, which means to be. Sei is basically the second-person singular present tense conjugation of essere. It is an irregular verb.
Present tense conjugation for essere
For example, you could say…
È l’una del pomeriggio.
It is one o’clock in the afternoon.
I miei genitori non sono in casa al momento.
My parents are not home at the moment.
Io e Luca siamo sposati dal 1996.
Luke and I have been married since 1996.
Now, what do you have to say to ask who are you in Italian to more than one person at a time? You need to conjugate the verb essere in the second person plural. You may have guessed what this is from the table above, but let’s see exactly what this form is in the next paragraph.
Plural: Chi siete?
Chi siete? is how you say who are you in Italian when you are addressing a group of people, in both formal and informal situations.
Who are you? (plural)
In Italian, unlike English, there are two kinds of “you”. There’s a singular “you” and then there’s a plural “you”. If you are addressing two or more friends, you must conjugate the verb essere according to the latter pronoun, which is voi.
From the table in the previous paragraph, you can see that the conjugation you have to use is voi siete.
Si può sapere chi siete? È un’ora che girate attorno a casa nostra!
May one know who you are? You have been hanging around our house for an hour!
Chi siete? Fatevi vedere, non nascondetevi!
Who are you? Show yourselves, don’t hide!
Now, how do you say who are you in Italian when you need to be formal? Read on to find out!
Polite: Chi è?
If you are just visiting Italy and often meet new people, unless you both agree to use the informal pronoun tu you will have to stick to the formal pronoun Lei when talking to other adults and people you are not on familiar terms with. With children, it’s customary to use tu regardless of familiarity.
So, how do you formally ask a person who are you in Italian?
Who are you? (formal)
More commonly though, you will find these expressions instead:
Chi è lei?
Who are you? (formal)
Lei chi è?
Who are you? (formal)
This is because chi è can also be translated as who is it/he/she. To avoid any misunderstanding, the formal subject pronoun Lei is added to the sentence.
This question uses the third-person singular conjugation. Basically, when speaking formally, Italians address each other with the subject “she”, lei.
And that’s the end of our lesson on how to say who are you in Italian in all its forms!
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