Learning Italian prepositions is essential to learning to communicate in Italian because we use these words in every day conversation. The more you practice Italian, the closer you will get to mastering the Italian language!
But first, we need to know what the role of prepositions is in the structure of Italian grammar.
Italian prepositions function just like prepositions do in English – prepositions link nouns, pronouns, and phrases to other words in a sentence. The word or phrase that the preposition introduces is called the object of the preposition. First, we will go over examples of commonly used Italian prepositions, and then we will go over how to use them in sentences. Let’s get started!
The following is a list of commonly used Italian simple prepositions (Preposizioni Semplici). It is important to know these words when learning to communicate in Italian.
Italian Simple Prepositions
The basic Italian prepositions are di, a, da, in, con, su, per, tra/fra.
Di, a, da, in, su, and percan be simple, when they are used alone, without an article; or articulated, when they are tense with the article, forming a whole word. The other prepositions do not have a tense form, even when matched with the article.
First, let us review the common prepositions listed above, and take a look at how to use them in a sentence or phrase.
Italian English Example
di of La casa di Robert. (Robert’s house.)
a at/to/in Noi andremo a Roma. (We are going to Rome.)
da from/by Sono ritornato da Roma. (I am back from Rome.)
in in/into Loro sono in America. (They are in
con with Lui va con loro. (He goes with them.)
per for Io cucino per lei. (I cook for her.)
tra between/among La penna è tra due libri.
(The pen is between two books.)
fra between/among La ragazza si trova fra due ragazzi.
(The girl is between two boys.)
While the examples above are very similar to the way we would use the same prepositions in English, it is important to acknowledge that in Italian, prepositions are also often used differently than we use the same words in English. Let’s take a look!
Vado a Roma. I am going to Rome.
Vado in Italia. I am going to Italy.
Vado da Roberto. I am going to Robert’s place.
Penso di capire. I think I understand.
There are a number of rules which govern how to use these prepositions listed above in different circumstances. For the moment, familiarize yourself with the examples above and take note of the different ways Italian prepositions are used in commonly used, ever day statements.
As you continue to learn Italian, you will become more familiar with these different rules and get a firmer grasp of Italian grammar. Gaining insight about how to approach learning a foreign language can make the process easier, as well.
One way in which Italian prepositions differ from the way we use prepositions in English is how they are used with definite articles.
In English, the definite article usually just follows the preposition, such as in the phrases “on the table” or “in the box.” In Italian, when the preposition is followed by a definite article, the two words are usually combined to create the preposizione articolata. Examples of this include “sul tavolo” or “nella scatola.”
Let’s take a look at how to combine commonly used simple Italian prepositions with a definite article to form the preposizione articolata:
Il Lo/L’ La/L’ I Gli Le
di del dello/dell’ della/dell’ dei degli delle
a al allo/all’ alla/all’ ai agli alle
da dal dallo/dall’ dalla/dall’ dai dagli dale
in nel nello/nell’ nella/nell’ nei negli nelle
su sul sullo/sull’ sulla/sull’ sui sugli sulle
con col collo/coll’ colla/coll’ coi cogli colle
When using the preposizione articolata, we apply the same rules of gender and number agreement as the article that they were derived from. For example, if you want to say on il tavolo (masculine, singular), you would say sul tavolo (masculine, singular). It would be incorrect to say sulla tavolo (which is feminine and therefore does not agree in gender with the nous, tavolo), or sugli tavolo (which does not agree because it is plural).
If this seems difficult at first, don’t worry, it does get easier with practice! Learning to speak Italian while doing an activity you enjoy, such as cooking, can make learning the language easier and more fun! Learning a foreign language with an activity associated with it is a way to practice speaking the language, familiarize yourself with more words and build your vocabulary, and learn more about another aspect of the culture. Take a look!
No matter what you want to talk about in Italian, you will need to know your pronouns, so let’s continue!
Time and Place Pronouns
Following is a list of Italian pronouns that indicate time and place. Try and memorize these pronouns, as they will prove most helpful to know when learning to speak, read, and write the Italian language.
Around intorno a
Beneath al di sotto
Beside accanto a
Two Word Prepositions
Here are commonly used Italian prepositions that are two words long in English:
According to secondo
Because of a causa di
Near to vicino a
Prior to prima di
Three Word Prepositions
Following are commonly used Italian prepositions that are three words long in English:
As far as fino a
As well as come pure
In addition to oltre
In front of di fronte a
Following is a list of Italian demonstrative pronouns, called preposizioni dimostrative. Demonstrative pronouns are also essential to know in order to communicate in Italian, so try to memorize this list.
How to Learn and Memorize the Vocabulary of Any Language
Incorporating a language learning method may prove helpful when trying to memorize Italian words and build your Italian vocabulary. Give it a try!
Let’s cover some important points concerning the Italian prepositions di and a.
The preposition di expresses possession as well as place of origin:
Di chi è questa rivista?—È di Lucia.
Whose magazine is this?—It’s Lucia’s.
Di dov’è James?—È di Miami.
Where is James from?— He’s from Miami.
Remember: The English to and in are translated by the Italian preposition a when used with the name of a city or a small island.
Vado a Venezia. (I am going to Venice.)
Abitano a Venezia. (They live in Venice.)
Vanno a Capri. (They are going to Capri.)
Abitano a Capri. (They live in Capri.)
Practice, practice, practice!
It is important to practice speaking, reading, and writing Italian prepositions and using them in phrases and sentences, in order to build your understanding of Italian, and your confidence! The more comfortable you feel communicating in Italian, the faster and easier it will be to continue to learn the language and become fluent in it in no time.
Learning about other aspects of Italian and the culture, such as gaining a better understanding of the art and history of the country, can prove helpful to better understanding the language, and is also enriching. Take a look and get started with learning Italian today!