Prepositions, just like in English, don’t always make sense. For example, things that in English are in something, in Italian may be “at” something. It very much depends on context, and/or on the verb that precedes them (again, just like in English). However, you’ll find that most of the time English and Italian are not that different after all!
The main prepositions are di, a, da, in, con, su, per, tra, fra.
Tra and fra both mean “between”, or “among”, and they’re almost completely interchangeable nowadays. However, it’s better not to use tra before a “tr” sound, or fra before a “fr” sound.
- Tra fratelli. (Between/Among brothers.)
- Fra tre persone. (Between/Among three people.)
They can also mean “in”, when talking about time:
- Incontriamoci tra/fra due ore. (Let’s meet in two hours.)
It is important to acknowledge that in Italian, prepositions are also often used differently than we use the same words in English.
- Vado da Roberto. (I am going to Robert’s place.)
- Penso di capire. (I think I understand.)
- La casa di Vincenzo. (Vince’s house.)
Knowing which prepositions to use when (in or a …. di or da) is a challenge from the very beginning, and will unfortunately prove somewhat difficult throughout your learning process.
When to Use “A”
The preposition “a” can mean “in” (indicating location), “to” (as in movement), or even “at” (as it relates to time). It should generally be utilized in the following scenarios :
When used in a geographical manner, in conjunction with cities.
- Vivo a Londra. (I live in London.)
- Noi arriviamo a Venezia domani. (We arrive in Venice tomorrow.)
- Michael e Luca studiano a Napoli. (Michael and Luca study in Naples.)
When discussing destinations or giving direction(s) (geographic or otherwise).
- Vado a Roma. (I am going to Rome.)
- Il bagno è a sinistra. (The bathroom is on the left.)
- Sono andato a letto presto. (I went to bed early.)
- Ho dolore alla schiena. (I have pain in my back.)
When telling time or indicating when things will happen.
- Il mio volo parte alle 19:00. (My flight leaves at 7:00pm.)
- A che ora è la festa? (What time is the party?)
- Possiamo restare fino a lunedì? (Can we stay until Monday?)
When used before the following nouns:
When to Use “IN”
The preposition “in” can mean “in” (indicating location), “to” (as in movement), or even “by” (as it relates to transportation). It should generally be utilized in the following scenarios :
When used in a geographical manner, with places larger than cities (regions, islands, states, countries, continents).
- Loro sono in America. (They are in America.)
- Vado in Italia. (I am going to Italy.)
- Viaggerò in Cina il prossimo autunno. (I will travel to China next fall.)
When used with to describe a means of transportation:
- Viaggio in barca. (I am traveling by boat.)
- Torno in aereo. (I am returning by plane.)
- Sono andato a Milano in treno. (I went to Milan by train.)
When used before the following nouns:
The prepositions di and da may take an apostrophe and become d’ before a vowel.
- d’altra parte, (from other side) meaning “on the other hand”
- d’oro, (made of gold) meaning “golden”
Combining w/ Definite Article
Some prepositions have to be combined with the definite article “the” whenever it ends up next to them in a sentence.
- I soldi sono sul tavolo. (The money is on the table.)
- Vado allo zoo ogni mese . (I go to the zoo every month.)
- Compro libri dal negozio. (I buy books from the store.)
Notice in the table below that di and in change into de- and ne- respectively, but the rest remain unchanged.
While combining the definite article with the preposition con (with) is still grammatically correct, it is not often utilized anymore. Therefore you are more likely to hear “con il” or “con la” (with the) than “col” or “colla“.
- Alla donna non piacciono le fragole. (The woman does not like strawberries.)
This translates literally as “to the woman strawberries are not pleasing”. If you were to use the definite article la instead of alla (to the), Duolingo will mark it as incorrect.
|a||at, to, in|
|fra, tra||among, between|
|fino a||until, as far as|
|secondo me||in my opinion|
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