I thought it best that we review prepositions from the start given that we have been doing holiday lessons and that prepositions in Italian, as in English can be tricky.
This is by no means an all-encompassing lesson on prepositions. It is a just good basis from which to start however. At the bottom of this page you will find resources which are available where you can learn more on this subject.
Let’s begin by defining what a preposition is. A preposition is a word that shows the relationship of one word (usually a verb, a noun or pronoun) to another word in the sentence.” This makes them incredibly valuable in properly communicating the thoughts which we wish to convey.
The following is a list of some common Italian simple prepositions (preposizioni semplici) italiano inglese esempi
di of La penna è di Giulia. The pen is Giulia’s.
a at/to/in Noi andremo a Roma domani. We are going to Rome tomorrow.
da from/by Sono ritornato da Roma. I have returned from Rome.
in in/into Loro sono in America. They are in America.
su on/onto/over/above Lei è su un cavallo. She is on a on a horse.
con with Il cane è con Roberto. The dog is with Roberto.
per for Questo cibo è per mio padre. This food is for my father.
tra between/among Il dizionario è tra due libri. The dictionary is between two books.
fra between/among Il ragazzo è fra i suoi fratelli. The boy is between his two brothers.
While the examples above are very similar to the way we would use those prepositions in English it is important to realize that in Italian, prepositions may often be used in ways we would never use those particular words. For example:
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 various rules which govern the use of these prepositions in different circumstances. Too many to cover here. That is why I said that this is not an all-encompassing lesson on this page alone. However, before you understand the rules you need to learn the words and how they may be used in ways we can easily grasp. We will look more into these other circumstances as we continue to study Italian together.
One way in which Italian prepositions differ from those in English is how they work with definite articles. In English, the definite article usually simply follows the preposition such as in “on the table” or “in the box”. In Italian, when the preposition is followed by a definite article they usually combine the two words to create the preposizione articolata such as in “sul tavolo” or “nella scatola.”
The following is a common table found in many textbooks illustrating how you combine an Italian simple prepositions with a definite article to form a 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 dalle
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
The preposizione articolata is governed by the same rules of gender and number as the article that they were partially derived from. For instance, if you wanted to say on “il tavolo” (masculine, singular) you would now have to say “sul tavolo” (masculine, singular) and not “sulla tavolo” (which does not agree because it is feminine) or sugli tavolo” (which does not agree because it is plural).