Preposizioni Semplici in Italiano

Hello everyone and welcome back to my blog! Some of you has been texting and emailing me about the Italian Preposizioni Semplici, so that’s what we are going to focus on today! 🙂

What are the prepositions?

Prepositions are words put in front of nouns, adjectives, pronouns, adverbs and infinitive verbs to connect them in different ways.

Example:

Il cellulare di Maria è qui.

(Maria's cellphone is here)
  • In this case di is used to connect Maria and her cellphone and it is used to state who the cellphone’s owner is.

Another example:

Maria abita in una casa tra le montagne.

(Maria lives in a house between the mountains)
  • In this case in connects the verb (abita) to the place (house) and states where Maria lives.
  • Tra, instead, connects the place (house) to another place (mountains) and states where the house is.

How many prepositions are there in Italian?

In Italian we have two different kind of prepositions:

  1. Preposizioni semplici;
  2. Preposizioni articolate.

1. Preposizioni semplici

PREPOSIZIONI SEMPLICI IN ITALIANO DI A DA IN CON SU PER TRA FRA

The preposizioni semplici are the easiest prepositions to learn and memorise (maybe that’s another reason why they are called simple!). The table below will summarise the simple prepositions for you:

DI OF, FROM
A AT, TO, IN
DA FROM, BY
IN IN, BY
CON WITH
SU ON
PER FOR
TRA, FRA BETWEEN

Let’s study in depth the preposizioni semplici:

1- Le preposizioni semplici: DI

  • It’s used to talk about who or what something belongs to:

DI chi è? – Whose is it?

È DI Marco. – It belongs to Marco.

  • It’s used to refer to the person who made something:

Un quadro DI Picasso – A picture by Picasso

Una commedia DI Shakespeare – a play by Shakespeare

NOTE: In English, ownership can be shown by using a noun with ‘s or s’ added to it (eg: child’s name). In Italian you change the word order and use DI to translate this sort of phrase:

La macchina DI mia madre – my mother’s car (literally: the car of my mother)

  • When a noun such as cotton, silver, paper is used as an adjective, use DI in Italian:

Una maglietta DI cotone – a cotton T-shirt

Una collana D’argento – a silver necklace

  • DI sometimes means from:

É DI Firenze – He’s from Florence

  • It is used to say what something contains or what it is made of:

Un gruppo DI studenti – a group of students

Un bicchiere DI vino – a glass of wine

É fatto DI plastica – it’s made of plastic

  • It is used with nouns to say when:

DI Domenica – on Sundays

DI notte – at night

DI giorno – during the day

DI mattina – in the morning

  • It is used in comparisons to mean than:

Luca é piú alto DI me – Luca is taller than me

  • It is used with the infinitive (the –are, -ere,-ire form of the verb) when it is used as a noun:

Ho paura DI volare – I am afraid of flying

Non ho voglia DI mangiare – I don’t feel like eating

2- Le preposizioni semplici: A

  • It is used with nouns to tell you where:

É A letto – he’s in bed

É A casa – he’s home

  • It is used when you are talking about going to a place:

Sei mai stato A New York? – Have you ever been to New York?

NOTE that if the place is a country, use IN in Italian

Andró in Germania quest’estate – I am going to Germany this summer

  • It is used to mean away when you are talking about distances:

A tre chilometri da qui – three kilometres away from here

A due ore di distanza in macchina – two hours away by car

  • It is used to mean at with times and holidays:

A mezzogiorno – at midday

A Natale – at Christmas

  • It is used to tell you how:

A piedi – on foot

A mano – by hand

A poco a poco – little by little

3-Le preposizioni semplici: DA

  • It is used with places to mean from:

A tre chilometri DA qui – three kilometres away from here

Viene DA Roma – he comes from Rome

  • It is used to say you are going to a shop or to someone’s house or workplace:

Andiamo DA Gabriele? – shall we go to Gabriele’s house?

Vado DA mia madre – I am going to my mum’s house

  • It is used to talk about how long something has been happening.

Vivo qui DA un anno – I have been living here for a year

  • It is used to mean since:

DA allora – since then

Ti aspetto DA mezzogiorno – I have been waiting for you since midday

NOTE that DA…. A…. means from…. to….

DA cima A fondo  – from top to bottom

DA mezzogiorno A mezzanotte – from midday to midnight

  • DA is used with the infinitive ( the –are, -ere, -ire form of the verb) when you are talking.

C’é molto DA fare. – there is a lot to do.

È un film DA vedere – it’s a film that you’ve got to see.

Non c’è niente DA mangiare – there is nothing to eat.

E DA bere? – and what would you like to drink?

  • In english you can say what something is used for by putting on noun in front of another, for example a racing car, an evening dress. In Italian change the word order and use DA.

Un nuovo paio di scarpe DA corsa – a new pair of running shoes

Paolo non ha il costume DA bagno – Paolo hasn’t got his swimming trunks.

  • DA is used with nouns to mean as.

DA bambino avevo paura del buio – as a child I was afraid of the dark

4-Le preposizioni semplici: IN

  • Use IN with essere to mean in when you are talking about where someone or something is – except in the case of towns.

Vive IN Canada – He lives in Canada

É nel cassetto – it’s in the draw

NOTE that in the case of towns you use A in Italian

Abitano A Bologna – they live in Bologna

  • Use IN with andare to mean to when you are talking about where something or someone is going to, except in the case of towns.

Andró IN Germania quest’estate – I’m going to Germany this summer

É andato IN ufficio – he’s gone to the office

  • Use IN to mean into when you are talking about getting into something or putting something into something.

Su, Sali IN macchina – Come on, get into the car

Come sono penetrati IN banca? – How did they get into the bank?

L’ha gettato IN acqua – he threw it into the water

  • IN is used with modes of transport to mean by.

Siamo andati IN treno – we went by train

É meglio andarci IN bici – It’s better to go by bike

  • IN is used to say how something is done.

Camminavano IN silenzio – they walked in silence

É scritto IN Tedesco – It’s written in German

TIPS:

-You don’t use IN with adverbs such as QUI (here) and LÍ (there).

Qui dentro – in here

Lí dentro – in there

Essere IN vacanza means to be on holiday, andare IN vacanza means to go on holiday.

5-Le preposizioni semplici: SU

  • Use SU to mean on.

Il tuo telefonino é SUL pavimento – your mobile phone is on the floor

NOTE that SUL giornale means in the newspaper.

L’ho letto SUL giornale – I read it in the newspaper

  • SU is used with topics to mean about.

Un libro SUGLI animali – a book about animals

  • Su is used with numbers.

In tre casi SU dieci – in three cases out of ten

É costato sui cinquecento euro – It cost around five hundred euros

É sulla tentina – she’s about thirty

6-Le preposizioni semplici: PER

  • PER often means for.

Questo é PER te – this is for you

É troppo difficile PER lui – it’s too difficult for you

L’ho comprato PER trenta euro – I bought it for thirty euros

Ho guidato PER trecento chilometri – I drove for three hundred kilometres

  • PER is used with destinations.

Il volo PER Londra – the flight to London

Il treno PER Roma – the train to Rome

  • PER is used with verbs of movement to mean through.

I ladri sono entrati PER la finestra – the burglars got in through the window

Siamo passati PER Birmingham – we went through Birmingham

  • PER is used to indicate how something is transported or communicated.

PER posta – by post

PER via aerea – by airmail

PER email – by email

PER ferrovia – by rail

PER telefono – by or on the phone

  • PER is used to explain the reason for something.

L’ho fatto PER aiutarti – I did it to help you

L’abbiamo fatto PER ridere – we did it for a laugh

Ci sono andato PER abitudine – I went out of habit

Non l’ho fatto PER pigrizia – I didn’t do it out of laziness

É successo PER errore – It happened by mistake

  • PER is used in some very common phrases.

Uno PER uno – one by one

Giorno PER giorno – day by day

Uno PER volta – one at a time

Due PER tre – two times three


I am sure you’ve noticed that I haven’t included the prepositions CON, TRA and FRA just because they respectively means: with and between/among.

I hope that now simple prepositions are clear and I remind you that if you feel ready you can start studying the preposizioni articolate! 🙂 Let me know in the comments below if you’re still struggling with the prepositions or if you feel more comfortable with them 🙂


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