What’s the difference between È and C’È? [Ep. 04]

By Manu Venditti | All Levels

Jun 21

Ken from the Unites States asks:
What's the difference between È and C'È? 

And when do I use each? 

Let's start with È 

È is the third person singular of the ESSERE (to be). It basically means "is" (and it covers all meanings such as "he is", "she is", and "it is").

We use it any time with want to DESCRIBE something, as "being"... whatever!

In Italian È is used to DESCRIBE something, and it usually renders the English "is". 

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Some examples

MARCO È ALTO
Marco is tall

MARCO È MIO AMICO
Marco is my friend

QUESTO VINO È BUONO
This wine is good

QUAL È IL TUO NUMERO DI TELEFONO?
What’s your telephone number?

So what's C'È  and when do I use it?

C'È literally means "there is" and it's related to CI SONO, which means "there are". We use C'È whenever we are talking about the presence / existence of something. 

In Italian C'È is NOT used to DESCRIBE things. 

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Some examples

C’È UNA BIRRA IN FRIGO
There’s a beer in the fridge

NON C’È SPAZIO PER TE
There’s no room for you

C’È DANIELE?
Is Daniele there? (as in “is he home?”, or similar)

OGGI C’È ALTA MAREA
Today (there) is high tide

C’È UN DOTTORE?
Is there a doctor?

Sometimes it can be a bit tricky... 

Since Italian and English are two different languages, sometimes things just don't work the same way! That's when it comes down to paying attention to how Italians say certain things and getting used to it!

Some examples

A PISA C’È LA TORRE
In Pisa there is the Tower (The Tower is in Pisa)

PER CENA C’È LA PIZZA
For dinner there is pizza (we’re having pizza for dinner)

OGGI C’È IL SOLE
Today it’s sunny

IN MACCHINA C’È UNA GIACCA, SE LA VUOI
In the car there’s a jacket, if you want it

To sum things up...

In Italian you can create a lot of time expressions by simply combining any of the expressions from the first group below with any other from the second group:

  • È is used to DESCRIBE
    (the qualities of something)
  • C'È is used to talk about the PRESENCE / EXISTENCE of something​

In Italian, È is used to DESCRIBE (the qualities of something). C'È is used to talk about the PRESENCE / EXISTENCE of something. 

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