Get up to 35% off with the ready, set speak sale! Ends soon!
Get up to 35% off with the ready, set speak sale! Ends soon!
ItalianPod101.com Blog
Learn Italian with Free Daily
Audio and Video Lessons!
Start Your Free Trial 6 FREE Features

A Comprehensive Guide to Italian Prepositions

Thumbnail

Italian prepositions are like almost everything else in the Italian language: hard to understand at the beginning, but poetic and lovely to the ear. Well, with this comprehensive guide to prepositions in Italian by ItalianPod101, you’ll learn Italian prepositions in the blink of an eye.

We’ll cover the basics of Italian prepositions and when to use them, using charts and examples so that understanding Italian prepositions has never been clearer. It’s Italian prepositions made easy!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian

Table of Contents

  1. What is a Preposition?
  2. How to Use Italian Prepositions
  3. Main Italian Prepositions
  4. Main Prepositions + Article
  5. Learn Italian with Ease at ItalianPod101

1. What is a Preposition?

But first, we must start with the basics: the very definition of a preposition.

A preposition is a small word that connects two words or sentences that have a specific relationship to each other.

For example: The cat is in the box. The preposition here doesn’t connect them in a one+one relation—that’s a conjunction (e.g. Angela and Luke are going to meet some friends).

Instead, a preposition adds some information regarding the relationship between the two elements it connects. For example, it tells you that the cat is in the box, not on the box or beside it.

Italian Prepositions

2. How to Use Italian Prepositions

In Italian, there are basically two different kinds of prepositions:

  • Main prepositions (preposizioni proprie in Italian)
  • Main prepositions + article

Then there are words that can be used as prepositions but also have other uses (preposizioni improprie in Italian), and prepositions made of more than one word. In this article, we’ll talk about the main prepositions (preposizioni proprie) and their combinations with articles.

Yes, we know, grammar is complicated. But we’ll show you how to use prepositions in Italian with the help of some examples, and everything will become much simpler.

3. Main Italian Prepositions

The main prepositions in Italian are: di, a, da, in, con, su, per, tra, fra. Let’s see each one of them in detail.

1- Di

As far as simple prepositions in Italian go, di is by far the most important and versatile preposition of all. It may have a lot of different functions within a sentence. The most important are:

  • Specification
    • Aspettiamo l’arrivo di Marta.
      “We are waiting for Marta’s arrival.”
  • Naming
    • Stiamo entrando nella città di Roma.
      “We are now entering the city of Rome.”
  • Fault
    • Il colpevole di questo crimine è stato trovato.
      “The person who’s guilty of this crime has been found.”
  • Penalty
    • Ho dovuto pagare una multa di 80 euro.
      “I had to pay an eighty-euro fine.”
  • Origin
    • Sono di Bologna.
      “I’m from Bologna.”
  • Subject
    • Vorrei parlarti di Marco.
      “I’d like to talk to you about Marco.”
  • Agent
    • I tuoi pantaloni sono macchiati di sugo all’arrabbiata.
      “Your trousers are stained with arrabbiata sauce.”
  • Material
    • Adoro le case di legno.
      “I love wood houses.”
  • Abundance
    • Lucia è sempre così piena di energia.
      “Lucia is always so full of energy.”
  • Limitation
    • Il Marocco è un paese povero di acqua.
      “Morocco is a country that’s poor in water.”
  • Cause
    • Sto tremando di rabbia.
      “I’m shaking with rage.”
  • Partition
    • Questa è la piazza più bella di tutte quelle che abbiamo visto.
      “Of all the squares we’ve seen, this is the most beautiful.”
  • Comparison
    • Firenze è più piccola di Milano.
      Florence is smaller than Milan.”
  • Quality
    • Cerchiamo persone di talento.
      “We are looking for talented people.”
  • Weight or measure
    • Ho comprato un melone di 3 chili.
      “I’ve bought a three-kilo melon.”
  • Specific time (when)
    • La libreria è chiusa di lunedì mattina.
      “The bookstore is closed on Monday mornings.”
  • Continued time
    • Ho fatto un viaggio di un mese negli Stati Uniti.
      “I took a one-month trip to the United States.”

It can also connect a sentence with a clause. For example:

  • Teresa mi ha chiesto di tornare da lei.
    “Teresa has asked me to come back to her.”
  • Ti ringrazio di essere così gentile con me.
    “Thank you for being so kind to me.”
  • Ti ordino di smettere.
    “I order you to stop.”

Learn Italian Prepositions

2- A

Another one of the simple Italian prepositions is a, which becomes ad when used before a word that starts with a vowel. It may be used in a sentence for many purposes:

  • Indirect object
    • Questa canzone è dedicata a mia moglie.
      “This song is dedicated to my wife.”
  • Being in a place
    • Stasera voglio stare a casa.
      “Tonight I want to stay at home.”
  • Specific time (when)
    • Comincerò l’università a settembre.
      “I’ll start university in September.”

It can also connect a sentence with a clause when the clause is related to a cause or goal:

  • Mi sbagliavo a fidarmi di lui.
    “I was wrong to trust him.”
  • Sono venuto a congratularmi con te.
    “I’ve come here to congratulate with you.”

3- Da

Da is another Italian preposition with a lot of different functions. In a sentence, the most important are:

  • Going from a place
    • Sono partito da Roma questa mattina.
      “I left Rome this morning.”
  • Going to someone
    • Per favore, torna da me.
      “Please, come back to me.”
  • Being at someone’s place
    • Stasera vado a dormire da Michela.
      “Tonight I’m going to sleep at Michela’s place.”
  • Agent and cause
    • Marco è stato aiutato dai suoi amici.
      “Marco has been helped by his friends.”
  • Separation
    • Luca è molto diverso da suo fratello.
      “Luca is very different from his brother.”
  • Specific time (from when)
    • Il corso ricomincerà da lunedì.
      “The course will start again on Monday.”
  • Continued time (for how long)
    • Danila è a casa da due ore.
      “Danila has been home for two hours.”
  • Price
    • Il mio capo ha un’auto da 80.000 euro.
      “My boss owns a 80.000-euro car.”
  • Manner
    • Si è comportato da stupido.
      “He acted stupid.”
  • Purpose
    • I tuoi occhiali da sole sono davvero belli.
      “Your sunglasses are really nice.”

It can also connect a sentence to a clause related to a goal or consequence. For example:

  • Ho riso tanto da piangere.
    “I laughed so much that I cried.”
  • Mi resta solo un episodio da vedere.
    “I just have one episode left to see.”

Letters

4- In

This preposition is mostly used for the following functions:

  • Being in a place:
    • L’ufficio è in via San Felice.
      “The office is on San Felice Street.”
  • Period of time:
    • Ho speso tutto il mio stipendio in 5 giorni.
      “I spent all my salary in five days.”

5- Con

Con is basically the same as the English preposition “with”:

  • Aspetta, vengo con te.
    “Wait, I’ll go with you.”
  • Con questo caldo, bisogna bere molta acqua.
    “With this heat, you have to drink a lot of water.”

6- Su

Su is used mainly for:

  • Being on something
    • Il gatto è salito su un albero.
      “The cat has climbed on a tree.”
  • Manner
    • Prepariamo torte su richiesta.
      “We bake cakes upon request.”
  • Subject
    • Ho scritto un libro sulla mia esperienza.
      “I’ve written a book about my experience.”
  • Fraction

Prepositions in the Italian Language

7- Per

In most sentences, per can be translated to the English preposition “for.” For example:

  • Oggi devo comprare un regalo per mia figlia.
    “Today I have to buy a present for my daughter.”
  • Per un bel concerto, sono capace di fare centinaia di chilometri.
    “I can travel hundreds of kilometers for a good concert.”
  • Il vestito sarà pronto per venerdì.
    “The dress will be ready on Friday.”
  • Giulia parte per New York domani mattina.
    “Giulia is leaving for New York tomorrow morning.”

But it’s also used for clauses related to a cause or goal:

  • Sono partito un’ora fa per arrivare puntuale.
    “I left an hour ago to arrive on time.”
  • Per fare carriera il mio collega farebbe qualsiasi cosa.
    “To move up in his career, my colleague would do anything.”

8- Tra and fra

Tra and fra are identical in meaning and function. Their main uses in a sentence are:

  • Going through a place
    • Siamo passati tra le due case.
      “We passed between the two houses.”
  • Distance (in space and time)
    • Arriveremo tra due ore.
      “We’ll arrive in two hours.”
  • Company
    • Amo passare le vacanze fra amici.
      “I love to spend the holidays among friends.”
  • Continued time
    • Tra il 2015 e il 2018 ho abitato a Milano.
      “From 2015 to 2018 I lived in Milan.”

Milan

4. Main Prepositions + Article

Italian prepositions and articles combine to form single words. But it’s important to note that Italian articles and prepositions combine only when the article is definite. That’s to say, only when it’s il, la, lo, l’, le, i, or gli, and when the preposition is di, a, da, in, and su (con and per only in ancient Italian). Everything will be clearer with this Italian prepositions + articles chart:

Il La L’ Lo I Gli Le
Di Del Della Dell’ Dello Dei Degli Delle
A Al Alla All’ Allo Ai Agli Alle
Da Dal Dalla Dall’ Dallo Dai Dagli Dalle
In Nel Nella Nell’ Nello Nei Negli Nelle
Su Sul Sulla Sull’ Sullo Sui Sugli Sulle

Here are some examples of Italian prepositions and articles:

  • Hai portato la macchina dal meccanico?
    “Have you brought the car to the mechanic?”
  • Ho lasciato l’agenda sulla scrivania, al lavoro.
    “I’ve left my diary on the desk, at work.”
  • Attento, è pericoloso tuffarsi dagli scogli!
    “Careful, it is dangerous to dive from the rocks!”

5. Learn Italian with Ease at ItalianPod101

Grammar can be harsh and complicated, but it’s easy to learn when you can follow the lessons whenever you want and study in an entertaining, interactive environment. That’s ItalianPod101.

Here on our site, you’ll find comprehensive guides like this one that’ll help you become a master of the Italian language, with tons of examples and tips. Download our apps or enjoy our video lessons from your PC, and whenever you have a doubt or just want to chat, you can find fellow students on our forum. Don’t be shy!

Before you go, let us know in the comments how you feel about Italian prepositions. More confident, or do you still need some Italian prepositions help? We look forward to hearing from you, and will help out the best we can!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Italian