Italian Grammar: Prepositions

ITALIAN PREPOSITIONS Prepositions are short words which express conditions, directions, specifications, such as of, over, to, from, etc. Prepositions are those little words that mark places in space or time. When prepositions are used together with definite articles, the preposition and the article are sometimes condensed into a single word. When they are not followed (and bound) to articles, they are called “simple prepositions”. Simple prepositions: They are words that aren’t followed by articles. Simple prepositions are:

di (d’) » of a » to da » from, by, since
in » in con » with tra, fra » between
su » on per » for
Di: “Di” means “of”, indicating possession, or “from” (to be from). Examples:
  • un bicchiere di vino  »  a glass of wine
  • la città di Roma  »  the city of Rome
  • il libro di Paolo  »  Paul’s book (literally: “the book of Paul”)
  • la madre di Roberto  »  Robert’s mother
  • io sono di Roma  »  I am from Rome
  • i due ragazzi sono di Berlino  »  the two boys are from Berlin
A: “A” means “to” (indirect object and movement) or “in”, indicating location (cities and places). When preposition “a” is followed by another word starting with a vowel, for mere phonetic reasons it changes to “ad”. Examples:
  • regalo il libro a Stefania  »  I give the book to Stephanie
  • venderò la bicicletta a Carlo  »  I shall sell the bycicle to Charles
  • a destra  »  to the right (note how in Italian the two directions have no article)
  • tornerò ad Amburgo  »  I shall return to Hamburg
  • siamo a letto  »  we are in bed
  • tu vivi a Roma   »  you live in Rome
Da: “Da” means “since”, “from” (to come from), “by” (passive) and it’s used with location referring to people. Examples:
  • Vivo a Foggia da 16 anni   »  I’ve lived in Foggia for 16 years
  • Vengo da Foggia   »  I come from Foggia
  • Questo corso è stato fatto da Davide   »  This course was made by Davide
  • Sono da Davide   »  I’m at Davide’s
In: “In” usually means “in”. Examples:
  • Vivo in una bella città   »  I live in a beautiful city.
  • ho dieci monete in tasca   »  I have ten coins in my pocket
  • traverseremo il fiume in barca   »  we will cross the river by boat
Con: “Con” means “with”. Examples:
  • Sono con te  »  I’m with you
  • ho comprato il libro con pochi soldi   »  I bought the book with little money
  • il bambino era con un adulto   »  the child was with an adult
Su: “Su” means “on(to)”, “over”. Examples:
  • I libri sono su un banco   »  The books are on a desk.
  • l’aereo vola su Firenze   »  The plane flies over Florence
Per: “Per” It can translate English for, to, by, or even as, according to the different use. Examples:
  • Questo regalo è per te   »  This present is for Davide
  • Ho un biglietto per il teatro   »  I have a ticket for the theatre
  • Il pacco è per la signora   »  the parcel is for the lady
Tra-fra: “Tra” and “fra” mean “between” or “in” followed by a time expression. Examples:
  • Sono tra(fra) il tavolo e la sedia  »  I’m between the table and the chair
  • Vengo a casa tra(fra) due minuti  »  I’d come home in two minutes
  • l’autobus passerà fra(tra) due ore  »  the bus will pass in two hours time
  • l’albero fra(tra) le due case è alto   »  the tree between the two houses is tall

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