Perché / Perciò / Siccome: The Difference Explained
Perché: why / because
Unlike in English, perché is used in both a question and an answer in Italian.
- Perché hai chiamato il taxi? Perché ero in ritardo – Why did you call a cab? Because I was late.
Perché used to indicate the cause of something and the reason why it happened.
- Ho chiamato il taxi, perché ero in ritardo – I called a cab because I was running late
- Non sono andata in spiaggia, perché faceva freddo – I didn’t go to the beach because it was cold
Perciò: therefore, for that reason, so
If we invert all the foregoing sentences, we can replace perché with perciò.
Perciò means therefore, for that reason and so.
- Ero in ritardo, perciò ho chiamato un taxi – I was late, so I called a cab
- Faceva freddo, perciò non sono andata in spiaggia – It was cold, therefore I didn’t go to the beach.
Perché vs perciò
Unlike perché, perciò expresses the consequence of something, not the cause.
Siccome: because, since, given that, as
Another word which is worth learning to make your Italian more natural is siccome.
In Italian, we can’t start a sentence with “perché” or “perciò.“
If we want to indicate the cause of something at the beginning of a sentence, we have to use siccome.
- Siccome ero in ritardo, ho chiamato un taxi – Since I was late, I called a taxi
- Siccome faceva freddo, non sono andato in spiaggia – Because it was cold, I didn’t go to the beach.
I often hear English speakers default to using perché or come instead of siccome.
Why? Because in English, it makes sense to start a sentence with “because” or “as,” which, in a literal translation, defaults to perché or “come.” However, in Italian, it’s impossible.
Saying “perché sono in ritardo ho chiamato il taxi” would be wrong.
Siccome vs. Perché
Just like perché, siccome expresses the cause, but perché is only used in the middle of a sentence, in a question, or in an answer. In Italian, we can’t start a phrase with “perché”. Instead, we use siccome.
In the following phrases, you can better see what I mean.
- Ho chiamato il taxi, perché ero in ritardo – Siccome ero in ritardo, ho chiamato il taxi – I called a cab because I was late – As/since/because I was late, I called a cab
- Non sono andata in spiaggia, perché faceva freddo – Siccome faceva freddo, non sono andata in spiaggia – I didn’t go to the beach because it was cold – Because, since, given that it was cold, I didn’t go the beach
Perché, and perciò and siccome can be only followed by verbs and are invariable words (they always stay the same).