Italian Prepositions

Prepositions are short words used to complement an adjective, adverb, noun, or pronoun. The basic Italian prepositions are di, a, da, in, con, su, per, tra/fra. Di, a, da, in, su, and per can be simple, when they are used alone, without article; or articulated, when they are tense with the article, forming a whole word. The other prepositions don't have a tense form, even when matched with the article. In the past the preposition "con" had tense forms, which are no more in use except for the col form.

Italian Prepositions in and a : forms and examples

The Italian preposition in usually means in. It is used to indicate:

  • direction (to) when linked to countries, regions, continents, big islands, bank, mountain, library or church
  • periods of the year, like seasons, months, years (in, during)
  • means of transporting

The Italian preposition a means at. It is used to indicate:

  • direction (to) when linked to cities or little islands
  • destination (to)
  • time (at)
  • to give a substantive an adverbial or adjectival meaning
  • before the infinitive

In front of the definitive articles, in and a take the following forms:


IN:

in + il = nel
in + lo = nello
in + l' = nell'
in + lin = nella
in + i = nei
in + gli =negli
in + le = nelle
 

A:

a + il = al
a + lo = allo
a + l' = all'
a + la = alla
a + i = ai
a + gli =agli
a + le = alle

The Italian prepositions di and da : forms and examples

The preposition di usually means of. It is also used to indicate:


  • direction (from) when following essere
  • time with words indicating parts of the day or days of the week
  • materials
  • arguments (about) with verbs as parlare (to talk), trattare (to treat), discutere (to discuss)
    The preposition da means from, since, or by. It is also used to indicate:
  • direction (to) when linked to people or worker
  • the aim of an object:

In front of definitive articles, di and da take the following forms:


DI:

di + il = del
di + lo = dello
di + l' = dell'
di + la = della
di + i = dei
di + gli =degli
di + le = delle
 

DA:

da + il = dal
da + lo = dallo
da + l' = dall'
da + la = dalla
da + i = dai
da + gli =dagli
da + le = dalle
 

The prepositions con, per and tra/fra : forms and examples

The preposition con means with.

The preposition per means for

It can also indicate direction linked to the verb partire (to leave) or with means of transportation.

The preposition tra/fra means between (place) or within/in (time).

There are no differences between tra and fra; it is just a stylistic choice depending on the speaker.

The Italian preposition su

The preposition su means on or about

As we said before, the preposition di can also mean about. Take care about the context:

In front of definitive articles, su takes the following forms:

su + il = sul
su + lo = sullo
su + l' = sull'
su + la = sulla
su + i = sui
su + gli = sugli
su + le = sulle
 

Italian preposition summary

  • The main Italian prepositions are di, a, da, in, con, su, per, and tra/fra
  • The prepositions di, a, da, in, su can be simple (not tense) or articulated (tense with the corresponding article). Per, tra/fra have just the simple form, while con can only become col.
  • Tra and fra have exactly the same meaning; it is just a stylistic choice for the speaker/writer.
  • Usually Italian articles can be translated in English as follows:
For more on Italian grammar check out these lessons! A presto!
Maria Di Lorenzi
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