In the realm of the Italian language, prepositions hold a vital role, serving as the connective tissue that binds words within sentences and shapes the meaning of nouns, adjectives, and verbs. Comparable to English prepositions like “in,” “at,” “by,” and “for,” common Italian prepositions, such as “di,” “a,” “in,” “tra,” and others, play a fundamental role in conveying relationships between elements within a sentence. In this guide, we will explore the various categories of Italian prepositions, effective techniques for mastering their usage, and valuable tips for smart Italian learning.

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Before delving into the depths of Italian prepositions, let us grasp a clear understanding of their essence and how they differ from their English counterparts.

What are Prepositions in Italian?

At its core, prepositions in Italian are modest words that build bridges between different components of a sentence. In effect, they significantly impact the meaning of nouns, adjectives, or verbs, much like English prepositions, including “in,” “at,” “by,” and “for.” Key Italian prepositions encompass “di,” “a,” “in,” “tra,” and more.

Simple Prepositions vs. Articulated Prepositions

Within the Italian language, we distinguish between two fundamental types of prepositions: simple prepositions and articulated prepositions.

Simple Prepositions: Standing independently, simple prepositions maintain their form regardless of the gender or number of the noun they modify. Notable examples of simple prepositions in Italian entail “di,” “a,” “da,” “in,” “con,” “su,” “per,” “tra,” or “fra.”

Articulated Prepositions: Articulated prepositions emerge from the fusion of a simple preposition and a definite article, such as “il,” “lo,” “la,” “l’,” or “i,” “gli,” “le,” contingent on the gender and number of the ensuing noun. For instance, “a” + “il” transforms into “al,” “di” + “la” becomes “della,” and “su” + “i” morphs into “sui.” These articulated prepositions are subject to change according to the gender and number of the subsequent noun.

Italian Simple Prepositions Chart


Italian Articulated Prepositions Chart

PrepositionMasculine SingularFeminine SingularMasculine PluralFeminine Plural

Of paramount importance, “tra,” “fra,” and “per” do not amalgamate with definite articles to forge articulated prepositions.

Unraveling the Preposition “di”

The preposition “di” holds versatility with diverse meanings and applications.

Main Meanings: of, possessive “‘s”, some

The most prevalent application of “di” involves denoting possession, akin to the English possessive “‘s” and the noun + noun structure.

  • Il libro di italiano (The Italian book)
  • La casa dei miei nonni (My grandparents’ house)
  • La lezione di Serena (Serena’s lesson)
  • Il corso di italiano (The Italian course)

Additionally, “di” finds use in partitive constructions to signify “some” or “any,” indicating an indefinite quantity.

  • Vorrei del pane (I would like some bread)
  • Vorrei dello zucchero (I would like some sugar)
  • Hai delle uova? (Do you have any eggs?)

It is common to employ articulated prepositions (di + definite article) in such sentences.

Moreover, “di” is occasionally employed after certain verbs, which are typically followed by a second verb, serving as a connector.

  • Finisco di lavorare (I finish work)
  • Spero di passare l’esame (I hope to pass the exam)
  • Ho voglia di fare una passeggiata (I feel like going for a walk)

Unveiling the Preposition “a”

The preposition “a” encompasses several meanings and finds application in diverse contexts.

Main Meanings: in, at, to

The preposition “a” signifies “in” or “to” when referring to a location you are going to and “at” when denoting a place where you presently are. While no rigid rules govern its usage, some trends can be observed. We employ “a” when the verb “andare” (to go) is followed by another verb. In these scenarios, “a” denotes “to.”

  • Vado a studiare (I’m going to study)
  • Vado a prendere il pane (I’m going to get some bread)
  • “A” signifies “in” or “to” when utilized before the name of a city or town.
  • Vado a Roma (I’m going to Rome)
  • Sono a Roma (I’m in Rome)
  • “A” or its contracted forms (articulated prepositions) are employed when going to a place or when you are presently at a place.
  • Vado al cinema / Sono al cinema (I’m going to the cinema / I’m at the cinema)
  • Vado al lavoro / Sono al lavoro (I’m going to work / I’m at work)
  • Vado al mare / Sono al mare (I’m going to the sea / I’m at the sea)

The choice between “a” or “al/alla/ai” depends on the gender and number of the subsequent noun, necessitating the memorization of common combinations (e.g., vado al mare) to facilitate correct usage. “A” or “alle” is utilized to indicate time.

  • Alle 8 (at 8 o’clock)
  • A mezzogiorno (at noon)

Decoding the Preposition “da”

The preposition “da” embodies multiple meanings in Italian and boasts a broad range of applications.

Main Meanings: from, for, since, by, to

The primary interpretation of “da” entails “from,” especially when indicating place. It is frequently combined with certain verbs like “partire da” (to leave from) and “venire da” (to come from).

  • Vengo da Milano (I’m coming from Milan)
  • Parto da Roma (I’m leaving from Rome)

Furthermore, “da” signifies “since” or “for” when denoting the duration of an action or activity.

  • Vivo a Roma da due anni (I’ve been living in Rome for two years)
  • Vivo a Roma dal 2018 (I’ve been living in Rome since 2018)
  • Comincio a studiare da domani (I start studying from tomorrow)

In passive forms, “da” translates to “by.”

  • Questa azienda è stata fondata da mio padre (This company was founded by my father)
  • Questo libro è stato scritto dalla mia insegnante (This book was written by my teacher)

Moreover, “da” can denote “to someone” or “at the house of someone” when utilized with the verbs “andare” and “essere.”

  • Vado dai miei amici (I’m going to my friends) and not vado ai miei amici
  • Vado dal medico (I’m going to the doctor’s) and not vado al dottore

Finally, “da” is used before an infinitive and following words like “molto,” “poco,” “niente,” “troppo,” “qualcosa,” and “nulla.”

  • Non c’è molto da fare (There isn’t much to do)
  • Hai qualcosa da dire (Do you have anything to say)

“Da,” together with “a,” also finds use in time expressions.

  • da lunedì a venerdì (Monday through Friday)
  • dalle 14 alle 15 (from 2 pm to 3 pm)
  • da marzo a giugno (from March to June)

Unearthing the Preposition “in”

The preposition “in” assumes the role of “in” when preceding the names of countries, regions, or states.

  • Vado in Italia (I’m going to Italy)
  • Vado in Toscana (I’m going to Tuscany)
  • Vado in Texas (I’m going to Texas)

Additionally, “in” denotes “to” when referencing a location we are headed to. This usage closely resembles the preposition “a,” making it occasionally challenging to determine whether to use “a” or “in.” Nevertheless, memorizing them in combination with the respective noun simplifies the choice.

Mastering Italian Prepositions: A Smart Approach

Embarking on the journey of learning Italian prepositions may present challenges, yet employing the right strategy can render the task more achievable. Below are effective techniques to facilitate your mastery of Italian prepositions:

  1. Focus on General Patterns. Rather than attempting to memorize all prepositions at once, concentrate on recognizing general patterns, such as using “a” before names of cities and “in” before names of countries. Familiarizing yourself with these common patterns will establish a solid foundation for further learning.
  2. Learn Prepositions in Context or Chunks. Learning prepositions in context or chunks can prove immensely beneficial. A chunk signifies a recurring combination of an adjective and a preposition (e.g., “pieno di” = “full of”) or a preposition and a verb (e.g., “parlare con” = “to talk with,” “venire da” = “to leave from,” and “consigliare di” = “to recommend to”).
  3. Grasp Contextual Meanings. Every preposition in Italian boasts multiple translations in English contingent on the context. For instance, “tra” translates to “between” when denoting spaces, yet signifies “in” when indicating future time. Sensitivity to context is pivotal in comprehending the apt usage.
  4. Engage with Simplified Italian. Consistent exposure to simplified Italian, such as short stories, can organically familiarize you with various combinations of nouns and prepositions or verbs and prepositions. Reading regularly will help internalize correct word order and preposition usage.

By employing these tips and understanding the nuances of Italian prepositions, you can unlock the key to proficient language usage, enabling you to express yourself with greater clarity and precision in your Italian conversations. The journey of learning Italian prepositions may seem daunting at first, but with determination and practice, you will undoubtedly attain success and elevate your language skills to new heights.


Italian prepositions form an integral part of the language, shaping the structure and meaning of sentences. From simple prepositions to articulated ones, each plays a unique role in conveying relationships between elements within a sentence. By adopting smart learning techniques, such as focusing on general patterns, learning in context, grasping contextual meanings, and reading simplified Italian, learners can navigate the intricate world of Italian prepositions with ease. From the versatility of “di” to the significance of “a,” “da,” “in,” and more, mastering these prepositions will elevate your Italian language proficiency and bring your communication skills to the next level. So, embark on your journey of learning Italian prepositions with enthusiasm and determination, and let the language unfold its beauty before you. Buon viaggio! (Bon voyage!)


What is the difference between simple and articulated prepositions?

The distinction between simple and articulated prepositions lies in their form and usage within Italian sentences. Simple prepositions, such as “di,” “a,” “da,” “in,” “con,” “su,” “per,” “tra,” or “fra,” are standalone words that do not change their form based on the gender or number of the noun they modify. On the other hand, articulated prepositions are formed by combining a simple preposition with a definite article, like “il,” “lo,” “la,” “l’,” or “i,” “gli,” “le,” depending on the gender and number of the noun that follows. Articulated prepositions can be modified depending on the gender and number of the noun that follows, while “tra,” “fra,” “con,” and “per” are not combined to form articulated prepositions.

How should I learn Italian prepositions?

Learning Italian prepositions can be achieved effectively with the following strategies:

  1. Focus on general patterns: Start by learning common patterns, like using “a” before names of cities and “in” before names of countries, to build a solid foundation.
  2. Learn in context or chunks: Memorize prepositions in context, such as recurring combinations of adjectives and prepositions or verbs and prepositions, to better understand their usage.
  3. Grasp contextual meanings: Recognize that every preposition has multiple translations in English depending on the context, which will help you use them correctly.
  4. Engage with simplified Italian: Read simplified Italian texts, like short stories, to expose yourself to prepositions in natural language use and enhance your learning.

What are some common expressions using Italian prepositions?

Italian prepositions are commonly used in various expressions. Here are some examples:

  • “Di giorno”: in the daytime
  • “Di notte”: at night
  • “In chiesa”: to church
  • “Al mare”: to the beach
  • “Con mia madre”: with my mother
  • “In vacanza”: on vacation
  • “Tra due giorni”: in two days
  • “Da domani”: starting tomorrow
  • “Per due ore”: for two hours
  • “In Toscana”: to Tuscany

What does the preposition “da” mean in Italian?

The preposition “da” in Italian embodies various meanings:

  • “From”: It is used to indicate place, often combined with verbs like “partire da” (to leave from) or “venire da” (to come from).
  • “Since” or “for”: It denotes the duration of an action or activity, such as “Vivo a Roma da due anni” (I’ve been living in Rome for two years).
  • “By”: In passive forms, “da” means “by,” as in “Questo libro è stato scritto dalla mia insegnante” (This book was written by my teacher).
  • “To someone” or “at the house of someone”: Used with the verbs “andare” and “essere,” it indicates movement towards someone’s place, like “Vado dai miei amici” (I’m going to my friends).

What are the different uses of the preposition “per” in Italian?

The preposition “per” in Italian has two main meanings:

  • “For”: It signifies a time frame, as in “Vado in palestra per due ore” (I go to the gym for two hours).
  • “To + verb”: It indicates an aim or purpose, such as “Studio per migliorare il mio italiano” (I study to improve my Italian) or “Faccio una dieta per perdere peso” (I’m on a diet to lose weight).

How are the prepositions “tra” and “fra” used in Italian?

“Tra” and “fra” are interchangeable prepositions in Italian and are used in various contexts:

  • “In” future time: They are used to indicate a future point in time, such as “Tra due giorni” (In two days).
  • “Between” or “among”: They denote relationships of position or inclusion, as in “Firenze si trova tra Roma e Milano” (Florence is located between Rome and Milan).

Both “tra” and “fra” serve the same purposes and are used interchangeably in Italian.

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