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Using the Different Prepositions in Italian

written by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 1/5/2012

When studying Italian, we need to use prepositions when forming a sentence. Learn the different basic prepositions in Italian, including combined prepositions.

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    Basic Italian Prepositions

    Prepositions are essential for sentence formation, as they tell us where things are in relation to the subject and the object. Let's go over the basic prepositions in Italian — what they mean in English and how we use them in a sentence:

    Di

    The word di in Italian can mean “of,” “about,” “than” and “by” in English. In sentence formation, the di comes before the word that it is modifying. For example:

    Questo è il libro di Matteo. (This is Matthew's book.)

    In some cases, we need to combine di or another prepositions with the definite article. We will learn about that later in the article.

    A

    The word a in Italian means “to,” “at” and “with” in English. Like di, a comes before the word it is modifying. For example:

    Vado a scuola. (I go to school.)

    Da

    The word da in Italian means “from,” “out of” and “by” in English. For example:

    Vengo da Roma (I come from Rome.)

    In

    The word in in Italian means “by” in English, as in a means of transport, as well as “in” and “at” and “to.” In is also used in several expressions, such as:

    in centro (in the center)

    in montagna (in the mountains)

    Con

    The word con in Italian means “with” in English. For example:

    Domani esco con Matteo. (I am going out with Matthew tomorrow.)

    Su

    The word su in Italian means “about” and “on” in English. For example:

    Un libro su Roberto Benigni. (A book about Roberto Benigni.)

    Per

    The word per in Italian means “in order to” and “for” in English. For example:

    Bisogna mangare per vivere. (You need to eat in order to live.)

    Per is also used in certain expressions:

    per fortuna (fortunately)

    per esempio (for example)

    per caso (by chance)

    Tra/Fra

    The words tra and fra in Italian mean “among,” “between” and “out of” in English. The two words can be interchanged. For example:

    Il gatto dorme tra le piante. (The cat sleeps between the plants.)

    Il gatto dorme fra le piante. (The cat sleeps among the plants.)

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    How to Combine Italian Prepositions With the Definite Article

    Sometimes when we use prepositions, we will be modifying a noun that has a definite article in front of it. When that happens, we combine the preposition and the definite article. Let's go over the different prepositions that have definite article combinations:

    A combinations

    a + il = al

    a + lo = allo

    a + l' = all'

    a + la = alla

    a + i = ai

    a + gli = agli

    a + le = alle

    Vai al cinema? (Do you go to the cinema?)

    Da combinations

    da + il = dal

    da + lo = dallo

    da + l' = dall'

    da + la = dalla

    da + i = dai

    da + gli = dagli

    da + le = dalle

    -Da dove vieni? (Where are you from?)

    -Dagli Stati Uniti. (I am from the United States.)

    Di combinations

    di + il = del

    di + lo = dello

    di + l' = dell'

    di + la = della

    di + i = dei

    di + gli = degli

    di + le = delle

    Matteo mi parle del suo videogioco.(Matthew talks to me about his video game.)

    In combinations

    in + il = nel

    in + lo = nello

    in + l' = nell'

    in + la = nella

    in + i = nei

    in + gli = negli

    in + le = nelle

    Nella tua borsa ci sono troppi libri. (There are too many books in your handbag.)

    Su combinations

    su + il = sul

    su + lo = sullo

    su + l' = sull'

    su + la = sulla

    su + i = sui

    su + gli = sugli

    su + le = sulle

    Il gatto è sulla sedia. (The cat is on the chair.)

References

  • Mezzadri, Marco. Essential Italian. Guerra Edizioni, 2004