I'm learning Italian as a beginner and I'm struggling to understand when to use:

"o" vs "oppure"

"bensi" vs "ma"

"e" vs "ed"

What are the grammatical rules that dictate which is the correct form of or, but, or and to use in a sentence?

  • 3
    "O" ed "oppure" sono utilizzati indifferentemente. Bensì si scrive con l'accento sulla i; "bensì" ha, tra i vari suoi significati, anche quello di sinonimo di "ma"; "bensì" è più formale ed è meno diffuso di "ma" nel linguaggio parlato, pur con delle eccezioni in alcune zone d'Italia. "Ed" ed "e" sono due forme della stessa congiunzione; "ed" è utilizzata davanti a parole che iniziano per vocale, specialmente a quelle che iniziano con la lettera "e". Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 19:07
  • 2
    Welcome to Italian.SE!
    – Charo
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 6:08
  • @Charo thank you
    – Rosie
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 11:38

1 Answer 1


o / oppure

They are basically interchangeable.

"Oppure" can carry a slightly stronger value, highlighting an option that excludes all others: "non so se verrà nel mattino o nel pomeriggio, oppure se non verrà affatto" ("I do not know whether he/she will come in the morning or in the afternoon or if he/she will not come at all").

"Oppure" tends also to be preferred before words beginning with "o", for euphonic reason: "Non so decidere se preferisco Amleto oppure Otello" ("I cannot decide whether I like more Hamlet or Othello").

bensì / ma

As a rule of thumb, you can always replace "bensì" with "ma", but you cannot always replace "ma" with "bensì"

"Bensì" indicates that two options are mutually exclusive: "mi ha convinto non con le parole bensì/ma con l'esempio*" ("He/She convinced me not with his/her words but with his/her example").

On the other hand, "ma" can be used also to introduce a sentence contrasting with some given premises: "Odio i boschi ma verrò con te per farti compagnia" ("I hate woods but I will come with you to keep you company"). "Bensì" cannot be used in this case.

e / ed

They are exactly the same: you can use "ed" in front of words beginning with a vowels, if it sounds better to you: "Ci siamo visti ieri e/ed oggi" ("We met yesterday and today").

Anyway you never use "ed" in front of words beginning with a consonant; in that case you always use "e"

[EDIT] As DaG rightly mentioned in the comments, nowadays the trend is to use "ed" only in front of words beginning with "e" rather than with any vowel, with the notable exception of word beginning with "ed", where the use of "ed" could cause a cacophonic repetition: "è gentile e educato ("he is kind and well-mannered").

  • 3
    Fine answer! Let me just add that it is often recommended to use ed just in front of words beginning with e, with the possible exception of those starting by ed... So, for instance: “e altri”, “ed ecco”, “e Edoardo”.
    – DaG
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 9:17
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    Yes, that is the trend now but I am quite old-fashioned under that point of view; consider I still use "od"... XD
    – secan
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 9:26
  • @secan thank you for this really well crafted answer. When to use bensi vs ma was throwing me off the most and your explanation has really helped clarify that for me.
    – Rosie
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 11:39
  • 1
    @Rosie, you are welcome; I am happy I could help. :)
    – secan
    Commented Jul 15, 2021 at 13:18

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