Differenza

Jemma October 1, 2016, 9:23 am
Ciao ciao
Come si dice " what is the difference between A and B" in italiano? 
Is this correct: (1) Qual è differenza tra A e B? or (2) Che cosa è differenza tra A and B?

What is the difference between saying essere felice and essere felici?

grazie mille
Differenza
Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor October 1, 2016, 6:05 pm
Hi Jemma,

Number 1 is correct! (Qual è la differenza tra A e B, remember the article!)

Essere felice and essere felici both mean to be happy. Generally, the first one is used when referring to oneself (essere felici vuol dire tutto per me = being happy means everything to me), the second is used on general statements such as essere felici non è facile, being happy is not easy.

Hope this helps!

Lucia
Differenza
drewster October 1, 2016, 10:00 pm
As an English speaker, this is one of those things that takes a bit of getting used to. I find it easier to think of the literal translation  ("Which is the difference between A and B?") rather than the interpreted translation (as we would normally say "What is the difference between A and B?"). I just find it makes it easier to remember that Italians would say it differently. I do the same for the different word order that you find in an Italian sentence.
Differenza
Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor October 1, 2016, 10:51 pm
What and cosa are usually translated literally. The presence of tra here (also spelled fra) introduces a pool of choices, as does of  in "which of the two do you like best?".

Quale implies a choice:
For what purpose? A quale scopo?
What/which is the best book you've read this year? Qual è il miglior libro che hai letto quest'anno?

A dirty trick would be to replace what with which and see if it still sounds good in the original sentence, since which shares this "choice context". If it does, go for quale.
 
Differenza
drewster October 1, 2016, 11:06 pm
That's the best explanation I've seen for when to use "quale", thanks!

Lucia, do you have any guide for fra v tra?

Cheers, Drew
Differenza
Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor October 1, 2016, 11:13 pm
Your ear's your guide!

It really makes no difference in a sentence such as fra/tra poco, but a combination like tra trenta minuti could be awkward on the tongue (famous Italian tongue twister: trentatré trentini entrarono a Trento, tutti e trentatré di tratto in tratto trotterellando).
Differenza

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