Beginner's Italian: Guide To Prepositions

Prepositions are those short words which express conditions, directions, specifications, places and times, such as of, over, to, from, etc. They are parts of speech which native speakers seem to instinctively understerstand, but for which rules are often hard to find.

The most commonly used prepositions in Italian are: di, a, da, in, con, su, per, tra, fra, sotto, and sopra.

Le preposizioni semplici

When they are not followed by (and bound to) articles, they are called preposizioni semplici "simple prepositions".

Di: "of", indicating possession, or "from" indicating origin.

  • Vorrei un bicchiere di vino.
  • Io sono di Chicago.
  • Questa è la macchina di Marco.
  • Lei è la madre di Roberto.
A: "to" (indirect object and movement), "at" or "in", indicating location (cities and places).
  • Regalo il libro a Stefania.
  • Venderò la bicicletta a Carlo
  • La libreria è a destra.
  • Tornerò ad Amburgo.
  • Sono a letto.
  • Tu vivi a Roma?

The directions right and left do not use an article.
When preposition a is followed by another word starting with a vowel, for mere phonetic reasons it changes to "ad".

Da: "since", "from" (to come from), "by" (passive) and it's used with location referring to people.
  • Vivo a Firenze da 16 anni.
  • Vengo da Venezia.
  • Sono da Maria.

Notes: da Maria means "(at the home) of Maria", in the same way that one might say chez Marie in French.

In: "in" for location, "by" for mode of transportation.
  • Vivo in una bella città.
  • Ho dieci monete in tasca.
  • Attraverseremo il fiume in barca.

The preposition in is used when describing a method of travel, even one like a bicycle which we might be tempted to think of as "on".

Con: "with".
  • Sono con te.
  • Ho comprato il libro con pochi soldi.
  • Il bambino era con un adulto.
Su: "on(to)", "over".
  • I libri sono su un banco.
  • L'aereo vola su Firenze.
Per: "for", "to", "by", or even "as", according to use.
  • Questo regalo è per te.
  • Ho un biglietto per il teatro.
  • Il pacco è per la signora.
Tra/fra: "between", or "in" when followed by a time expression.
  • Sono tra(fra) il tavolo e la sedia.
  • Vengo a casa tra(fra) due minuti.
  • L'autobus passerà fra(tra) due ore.
  • L'albero fra(tra) le due case è alto.

Le preposizioni articulati

When followed by a noun that is preceded by definite article, the prepositions become preposizioni articolati, or "articulated prepositions." Here, the simple preposition joins with the article to form a single word.



  • Vado al ristorante.
  • Metti il libro sul tavolo.
  • Metti il libro nellâarmadio.
  • Potrò vederti domani dalle 5 alle 7.
  • Saltò giú dal secondo piano.

Want to see my favorite language resources and courses?
I listed them here.

Author: Yearlyglot
I'll lead you through a 12 month journey from knowing absolutely nothing about a language to having professional fluency.

Leave a comment:

Comment Policy: Comments and feedback are totes welcome but respect is mandatory. Disagree all you want but be nice. All comments and links are moderated.
  • Randy Yearlyglot

    Hi! I hope you don't mind if I post here some corrections:
    - "preposizione" is feminine word, so you must say "LE preposizioni"
    - "articolate" instead of "articulate"
    - "Io SONO di Chicago", and "questA è la macchina"
    - "Attraverserò" instead of "traverserò"
    Then... rules are very hard to find, that's true... I'd even say that rules about prepositions do not really exist :) But after a lot of mistakes, somehow you'll learn them ;-)

  • Randy Yearlyglot

    I don't mind at all... I want it to be right! Thanks for the corrections. I've updated the text.

Want to learn a language in 12 months?

Language you're learning...