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I need clarity with 'di' & 'a'



Ciao :)

I am needing a little more clarity with the usage of 'di' and 'a' prior to some verbs. I realise it is often used as often as not as well. 

I will give some examples below:

1. il tempo di cuocere il sugo
2. Non andrò a lavorare domani

I can understand example 2 with 'a' indicating 'to' here.  However i see that not always we use 'di' or 'a' before a verb.


3. lasciamo cuocere un altro po'

I can understand it is required when we use things with time, ie... È ora di... il tempo di...

When is it necessary and not necessary to utilise 'di' & 'a' ?

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Hi rigoletto,

Many Italian verbs, as also many English verbs, are followed by a preposition. Andare is one of those. Some other verbs "stand alone", like lasciare, or are followed by a preposition only in a few cases.

The English to is either rendered with a, di, per. There are then verbs that require da or su. The preposition that you have to use depends on the verb.

Some verbs that are followed by a are:
Andare a: andare a lavorare
Continuare a: continuare a lavorare (to continue to work)
Iniziare a: iniziare a lavorare (to begin to work)
Mandare a: mandare qualcuno a fare la spesa (to send [ask] someone to go shopping)

Some verbs that are followed by di are:
Smettere di: smettere di lavorare (to stop working)
Finire di: finire di studiare (to finish studying)
Approfittare di: approfittare di un'offerta al supermercato (to take advantage of a discount at the supermarket)

Some of these verbs, like also cercare, dire, pensare and chiedere always need di when they are followed by an infinite verb:
Chiedere di uscire (to ask to go out)
Dice di essere stanco (he says he is tired - "he says to be tired")
Penso di trasferirmi in America (I think I will move to America - "I think of move in America")
They are not followed by a preposition if, for example, they precede an object.
Chiedere un prestito (to ask [for] a loan)
Dire qualcosa (to say something)
Finire un libro (to finish a book)
Mandare una lettera (to send a letter)
Pensare is however followed by a when it precedes an object:
Pensare a un piano d'attacco (to think about a plan of attack)

Finally, some verbs use su, per and da:
Conto su di te (I count on you)
Pregare per qualcuno (to pray for someone)
Allontanarsi da qualcosa (to distance oneself from something)

Be sure to memorize each verb's behavior, it's the only way to know which preposition must be used. Practice makes everything perfect :)



Perfetto Lucia, grazie mille, studierò questi preposizioni :D 
Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Good! Keep up the great work! :)
Preposizioni is feminine, however (singular: la preposizione). So it's queste preposizioni.


Wow what a surprise that got me, many thanks for correction, automatically thought it was masculine being i for plurale. :D 

Grazie :) 


Also Lucia another question popped up into my mind, if i were to conjugate verbs before a verb would i still need to use prepositions inbetween.

For example using some of your examples continuare a  lavorare:

io continuerò a lavorare : i will continue to work
i assume the preposition remains as original. 

io proverò continuare a lavorare : i will try to continue to work
would we need to include any preposition inbetween the conjacuated provare and continuare?

io voglio continuare a lavorare : i want to continue to work
same here, Would we need any prepositions before continuare?

Thanks again Lucia :)

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Yes, another preposition is needed here. Provare belongs to those verbs that take on a preposition when in front of an infinite verb:
Io proverò a continuare a lavorare.

Volere is different, however, because it doesn't need any prepositions before an infinite:
Io voglio continuare a lavorare.


Grazie Lucia,

Devo chiederti un'altra cosa, per piacere.

As i study more and then go back to do more flash cards from the past, i see more little things i never realised, and now I am picking up on them and it makes me ask to see if it is what I think they are, so I am sorry for bothering you with so many questions! :) 

I was doing a flash card in 5.7 and there was the sentence saying:

Vorrei anche offrire qualcosa da bere da accompagnare al vostro dolce, a Lei e alla Signora.
I would also like to offer you and your partner your choice of drinks to accompany dessert

The issue here is that 'da' being used here as the prepositions in between bere and accompagnare.

I understand 'a' us there to specify 'to', so to drink, to accompany.

Why the da ? I am only guessing if i was to guess so it flows better when pronounced? So it is pronounced properly, normally da would mean 'from' wouldn't it?

So usually adding the 'D' to the e and a in between the verbs starting and also ending with alike vowels it flows more better?

I have seen in a few cases online and here where a d was added to the a (da) or e (ed) in between verbs. It must only be so it flows right, could you please explain more about this?

Thanks again Lucia. I appreciate all your help.
Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Hi rigoletto,

Feel free to ask any questions when you're in doubt! :)

The "D" case you mentioned is called "euphonic d" (in Italian, D eufonica) and it has nothing to do with the da used here.
To achieve a better sound, a "d" is added to the words a, o and e when they precede a word that begins with the same vowel. This euphonic d is also only added at the end of the vowel, not at the beginning.

Ce la fai ad alzare il pacco? Can you lift the package?
Ed ecco il nostro amico! And here is our friend!

The second da between bere and accompagnare refers to "qualcosa da bere" and it has the same function of the first da, which refers to "qualcosa". It's like a matrioska effect.

If you have other questions, don't hesitate to ask! :D



Thanks very much Lucia,

Ok so it is not the euphonic D. But it is there for a reason of similliar and that is to achieve a effect similliar, but like a matrioska like effect is it? Sorry i am a bit confused. Otherwise normally it is "a" in between the verbs right?  a bere a accompagnare ?

Is it the same deal here in one of the earlier lessons,

Prendo il volo delle sei

Normally we would have "alle sei" wouldn't we? Or is it suppose to be delle here? "of 6 o'clock".
Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

No, the two da's are a complete preposition (da). A is yet another preposition, but it's never used between qualcosa and an infinite verb.

The euphonic D can only be seen in ad (not da, that's a different preposition), ed (and), od (or). Of these, just ad is a preposition (a + d in case the word following a begins with the same vowel, otherwise it remains a). Roughly speaking, da and a are opposites: da means from, a means to.
To achieve a better sound, articles and nouns ending in the same vowel are contracted: la anatra = l'anatra (the duck), lo ostacolo = l'ostacolo (the obstacle); verbs and other words are often cut, especially in poetry, as in "E il naufragar m'è dolce in questo mare" (L'infinito by Giacomo Leopardi), the uncut verse being "E il naufragare mi è dolce in questo mare", or in Com'è andata a scuola?, "How was school?".

But this da doesn't belong to any of the above.
The English construction "something to [verb]" is always rendered as "qualcosa da [ verb in -are, -ere, -ire] in Italian. It's the way this saying works, and you could rewrite it like this:

Qualcosa da bere = qualcosa che può essere bevuto (something that can be drunk)
Qualcosa da mangiare = qualcosa che può essere mangiato (something that can be eaten)
Qualcosa da leggere = qualcosa che può essere letto (something that can be read)

The latter forms are very seldom used in the language, however both sentences have the same meaning.

A similar construction can be found in:
C'è da andare a prendere il latte. Andare wants an a in front of an infinite verb. C'è da can be translated as "There is to". A literal translation would be "There is to go to take the milk", meaning someone has to go buy some milk. The first to is translated with da, because it belongs to the "c'è da" construction, and the second to, being between andare and an infinite verb, is rendered as a.
Non c'è nulla da fare. There is nothing to do. [Non c'è nulla che può essere fatto]
Non c'è molto da fare. There is not much to do. [Non c'è molto che può essere fatto]
Cosa c'è da mangiare? What is there to eat? [What is there that can be eaten?]

Prendo il volo delle sei.
This is not an euphonic D either. Delle is a long preposition that is created by fusing together di + le (as if we were to join of + the in English). A rough English translation could be "I take the flight of six o' clock". Delle, in this case, refers to the departure time of the flight, meaning there is a specific flight that takes off at that time ["I take the flight that takes off at six"].
If you were to use alle sei, you would have to say Parto alle sei, "I leave at six". This sentence is more general, as it doesn't contain any specific information. Prendo il volo alle sei sounds a bit weird. You could use alle in this kind of situation:
A che ora hai il volo? What time are you leaving? [At what time do you have the flight?]
Ho il volo alle sei. I leave at six. [I have the flight at six]

Of course, you could also say Il volo che prendo parte alle sei [The flight that I take leaves at six]. Only when you're talking about a specific flight, or train, or bus drive at a specific time, you mark them with di:
Il treno Eurostar delle tre. The Eurostar train of three o' clock. [The Eurostar train that departs at three o' clock]
L'autobus delle due e mezza. The bus of half past two. [The bus that arrives at the bus stop at half past two]
Il volo Alitalia dell'una. The Alitalia flight of one o' clock. [di + la]

What may be confusing here is that the English to can be translated in many ways in Italian (either with di, da, per, a...). Italian prepositions are much unpredictable, and this is why it's a good thing to memorize, along with each verb or saying, the prepositions that are used.

Hope this helps!


Thanks very much Lucia. this is a very good exaplanation and really makes a lot of sense.

I will have to memorise the behaviours of these verbs and the prepositions.  And got it now that the euphonic D only goes at the end of those certain vowels and thanks very much for clarifying all that with the times as well, now i get it much better. So much to digest but wow very informative and so good.

Also one last thing when i was doing 6.7 today

Voi vi rendete conto del problema?  

Should it not be della problema instead of del  seeing that problema would as i assume be a feminine word in gender?

Grazie di cuore, Lucia :) 
Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Buon pomeriggio rigoletto, 

Problema is a tricky word, because it's true it ends with -a, but it's actually a masculine noun (il problema)!
Many words ending in -ema, if not all, are masculine. I've never heard of such a rule, but if I think of other words ending in -ema, they all happen to be masculine:
Il diadema (the diadem)
Lo schema (the scheme)
Il morfema (the morpheme)
Il fonema (the phoneme)
Il sistema (the system)
L'edema (the edema)

Genders can sometimes be as tricky as prepositions: some words, like pianeta (planet) for example, mean two different things depending on the gender of their article!
Il pianeta (the planet) - very common word
La pianeta (the chasuble) - very uncommon word

Hope this helps and have a great Sunday! :)


Buona sera Lucia,

Thank you very much for this. Wow amazing, luckily i caught on to this and now i know what else to look out for. Looks like lots of practicing and studying to do for me and to learn these other few tricky nouns. Amazing, otherwise i would have thought most of those above would have all been feminine in gender.

Grazie di cuore Lucia.
Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

Lucia - Rocket Languages Tutor

You're welcome! :)


Hi Rigoletto,

I was flipping back through questions and noticed this, from which I've learned a lot. I've been doing this for prepositions which I've found very good: It takes you through at a really good pace explaining loads of fixed phrases and giving you practice at all the different uses of da, di, a, in and so on.



thanks drew

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