Today’s Italian phrase will come in handy whenever you find yourself wondering about the mysteries of the universe!
Mi chiedo perché.
I wonder why.
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As is customary, let’s break it down into its component parts:
The verb chiedere means to ask but if you drop the -e of its infinitive ending and add the pronoun si to the end, you get the reflexive verb chiedersi which means to wonder or to ask oneself.
Mi chiedo literally means I ask myself.
An interrogative adverb meaning why. Not to be confused with the conjunction perché which means because.
If you wish to elaborate, you can add a noun clause after perché as in the following examples:
Mi chiedo perché loro sono sempre in ritardo.
I wonder why they are always late.
Mi chiedo perché la porta non è chiusa.
I wonder why the door isn’t closed.
Here is a table showing the conjugation in the present tense for the verb chiedersi, just in case you aren’t the only one doing the wondering!
io mi chiedo
tu ti chiedi
you (informal) wonder
lui si chiede
lei si chiede
Lei si chiede
you (formal) wonder
noi ci chiediamo
voi vi chiedete
you (plural) wonder
loro si chiedono
In colloquial Italian, you may hear people accentuate the phrase with Ma (but) and/or Io (I) to express disapproval or disappointment, coupled with a different intonation. They may also pause between chiedo and perché, or double the perché as in the following example:
Ma io mi chiedo, perché loro sono sempre in ritardo!?
Ma perché, io mi chiedo, perché loro sono sempre in ritardo!?
But I do wonder, why are they always late!?
But why, I wonder, why are they always late!?
In the place of chiedersi, it is also possible to use the reflexive verb domandarsi. The meaning is the same but domandarsi is a little more formal.
Mi domando perché siamo qui.
I wonder why we’re here.
Yet another option you can use to express wonder besides chiedersi and domandarsi is the adverb chissà which means who knows.
- Chissà perché (loro) sono in ritardo. = Who knows why they are late.
- Chissà perché la porta non è chiusa. = Who knows why the door isn’t closed.