The question I want to reply to today regards the meaning of the word ciò.

I will also digress on the difference between ciò and cioè, another common and peculiar Italian word.

CIO

Ciò appears to have multiple meanings.

Ciò is a demonstrative pronoun, and it is often used instead of questo and quello, especially in formal or written Italian.

Examples with ciò
  • Ciò che mi fa arrabbiare è che (formal)– What drive me crazy is that…
  • Quello che mi fa arrabbiare (informal) – What drive me crazy is that…
  • Questo non è ciò che ti avevo detto di fare  – This is not what I told you to do to (formal)
  • Questo non è quello che ti avevo detto di fare – This is not what I told you to do to (informal)
  • Ciò che voglio dirti…– What I want to tell you (formal)
  • Quello che voglio dirti… – What I want to tell you (informal)

Both quello che (informal) and ciò che (formal) means “that thing.”
The function of the pronoun is to replace something that was previously mentioned.


You should also know tha ciò refers just to events or ideas, or to something that has just been said in the shape of a sentence.

CIO’ and CIO’

Cio is often confused with the verb cioè, which has a different meaning and pronunciation.
Cioè is meanly a connector and is used in between two sentences in which the second one explains, corrects or rephrase the first one.

Examples with cioè 
  • Ci vediamo alle 3, cioè alle 4 – Let’s meet at 3, I mean at 4
  • Vado in Belize, no cioè inn Guatemala – I am going to Belize, I mean, to Guatemala 

In English, the most accurate translation of cioè would be “I mean.”

The formal pronoun referring to people is costei or costui.
It’s hardly ever used in spoken Italian and belongs to the written language.

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