Prepositions and Their Uses

Prepositions indicate the location, time, position, or direction of an object in relation to the verb. The most commonly used prepositions in Italian are:

<tgroup cols="2"> <colspec colname="col1" colnum="1" colwidth="50%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="center"/> <colspec colname="col2" colnum="2" colwidth="50%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="center"/> <tbody> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>a</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>at, in, to</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>con</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>with</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>da</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>by, from</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>di</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>about, from, of</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>in</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>at, in, into</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>per</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>for</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>su</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>on</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>tra</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>between</p></td> </tr> </tbody> </tgroup> </table> <p>As you can see, prepositions in Italian don't always have a single equivalent to their English counterparts. Learning proper use of prepositions in Italian requires practice.</p> <p>When used to indicate a destination or a location, the preposition <emphasis>a</emphasis> is used with cities and towns, and the preposition <emphasis>in</emphasis> is used with larger geographical areas, including states, large islands, countries, and continents.</p> <p><emphasis>I miei amici abitano a Boston.</emphasis> <emphasis role="Bolditalic">My friends live in Boston.</emphasis></p> <p><emphasis>Vado a Boston per vedere una partita dei Red Sox.</emphasis> <emphasis role="Bolditalic">I am going to Boston to see a Red Sox game.</emphasis></p> <p><emphasis>Vado in Italia l'anno prossimo.</emphasis> <emphasis role="Bolditalic">I am going to Italy next year.</emphasis></p> <p><emphasis>L'Italia è in Europa.</emphasis> <emphasis role="Bolditalic">Italy is in Europe.</emphasis></p> <h2>Exercise 9: Prepositions</h2> <p>Fill in the blank with the correct preposition.</p> <ul> <li><p><emphasis>Marcello abita Roma.</emphasis></p></li> <li><p><emphasis>Il fratello Massimo si chiama Adriano.</emphasis></p></li> <li><p><emphasis>Gli studenti studiano biblioteca.</emphasis></p></li> <li><p><emphasis>Telefono mia madre ogni domenica.</emphasis></p></li> <li><p><emphasis>Non mi piace la pizza le acciughe.</emphasis></p></li> </ul> <h2>Articulated Prepositions</h2> <p>The prepositions <emphasis>a, da, di, in</emphasis>, and <emphasis>su</emphasis> combine with the definite article to form one word. These are called “contractions” or “articulated prepositions.”</p> <p><emphasis>Vado a + il negozio = Vado al negozio.</emphasis> <emphasis role="Bolditalic">I am going to the store.</emphasis></p> <p><emphasis>Sono i libri di + gli studenti = Sono i libri degli studenti.</emphasis> <emphasis role="Bolditalic">They are the students' books.</emphasis></p> <table frame="all" width="100%"> <title/> <tgroup cols="9"> <colspec colname="col1" colnum="1" colwidth="12%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="center"/> <colspec colname="col2" colnum="2" colwidth="11%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="center"/> <colspec colname="col3" colnum="3" colwidth="11%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="center"/> <colspec colname="col4" colnum="4" colwidth="11%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="center"/> <colspec colname="col5" colnum="5" colwidth="11%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="center"/> <colspec colname="col6" colnum="6" colwidth="11%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="center"/> <colspec colname="col7" colnum="7" colwidth="11%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="center"/> <colspec colname="col8" colnum="8" colwidth="11%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="center"/> <colspec colname="col9" colnum="9" colwidth="11%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="center"/> <thead> <tr> <td><para/></td> <td><p>il</p></td> <td><p>lo</p></td> <td><p>l' (masc.)</p></td> <td><p>la</p></td> <td><p>l' (fem.)</p></td> <td><p>i</p></td> <td><p>gli</p></td> <td><p>le</p></td> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>a</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>al</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>allo</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>all'</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>alla</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>all'</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>ai</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>agli</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>alle</emphasis></p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>di</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>del</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>dello</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>dell'</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>della</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>dell'</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>dei</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>degli</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>delle</emphasis></p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>da</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>dal</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>dallo</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>dall'</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>dalla</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>dall'</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>dai</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>dagli</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>dalle</emphasis></p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>su</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>sul</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>sullo</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>sull'</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>sulla</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>sull'</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>sui</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>sugli</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>sulle</emphasis></p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>in</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>nel</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>nello</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>nell'</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>nella</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>nell'</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>nei</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>negli</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>nelle</emphasis></p></td> </tr> </tbody> </tgroup> </table> <p>The prepositions <emphasis>con, per,</emphasis> and <emphasis>tra</emphasis>, when followed by a definite article, do not form a contraction.</p> <p><emphasis>Mio padre parla con il mio amico.</emphasis> <emphasis role="Bolditalic">My father is speaking with my friend.</emphasis></p> <p><emphasis>Il libro d'italiano è tra il dizionario e il calendario.</emphasis> <emphasis role="Bolditalic">The Italian book is between the dictionary and the calendar.</emphasis></p> <h2>Exercise 10: Un Viaggio in Italia</h2> <div class="npmo"> <img src="http://0.tqn.com/d/np/italian-practice/track.jpg"> <div class="npcp"><p>TRACK 14</p></div> </div> <p>Listen to Track 14 and answer the questions in complete sentences in Italian.</p> <ul> <li><p><emphasis>Dove va John quest'estate?</emphasis></p> <p>.</p></li> <li><p><emphasis>Con chi viaggia?</emphasis></p> <p>.</p></li> <li><p><emphasis>Dov'è ‘La creazione dell'uomo’?</emphasis></p> <p>.</p></li> <li><p><emphasis>Dov'è ‘La nascita di Venere’?</emphasis></p> <p>.</p></li> <li><p><emphasis>Prima di tornare a Chicago, dove vanno?</emphasis></p> <p>.</p></li> </ul> <h2>Exercise 11: Articulated Prepositions</h2> <p>Translate the prepositional phrases into Italian. Some will require articulated prepositions, others will not.</p> <p>1. (of Mr. Romeo) <emphasis>Dove sono i figli</emphasis> ?</p> <p>2. (in a building) <emphasis>L'ufficio del professore è</emphasis> .</p> <p>3. (in the center of town) <emphasis>C'è un buon ristorante</emphasis> .</p> <p>4. (of the computer) <emphasis>Hai bisogno</emphasis> .</p> <p>5. (in Denver) <emphasis>I miei amici abitano</emphasis> .</p> <p>6. (Franco's books) <emphasis>Ecco</emphasis> .</p> <p>7. (in the churches) <emphasis>Ci sono molte persone</emphasis> .</p> <p>8. (in the library) <emphasis>Oggi studiamo</emphasis> .</p> <p>9. (from the other girl) <emphasis>È un regalo</emphasis> .</p> <p>10. (in the classrooms) <emphasis>Gli studenti sono</emphasis> .</p> <p>11. (of the election) <emphasis>Oggi è il giorno</emphasis> .</p> <p>12. (between two books) <emphasis>Il quaderno è</emphasis> .</p> <p>13. (with sugar) <emphasis>Il cameriere porta il caffè</emphasis> .</p> <p>14. (in a new restaurant) <emphasis>Pietro lavora</emphasis> .</p> <p>15. (with a friend) <emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> .</p> <h2>Exercise 12: Translation</h2> <p>Translate the following into Italian.</p> <p>1. I live in a small house.</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>2. The professor explains the lesson to the students.</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>3. The conference is in the hotel downtown.</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>4. Today John is at home.</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>5. Francesco's books are on the bed.</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>6. The childrens' toys are in the living room.</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>7. Whose pen is this?</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>8. It is the lawyer's pen.</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>9. Here are John's friends.</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>10. The gift is from John's friend.</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>11. There are many flowers on the trees.</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>12. Peter works in a restaurant in the center of town.</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>13. The calendar is between two books on the desk.</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>14. He is a good friend from Boston.</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>15. The children bring many gifts for the teacher.</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>16. They work in the United States.</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>17. They are arriving on the train from New York.</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>18. The train arrives at the station tonight.</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>19. I listen to music when I work.</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>20. Are you buying many clothes in the new stores on Newbury Street?</p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni mangia</emphasis> </p> <p>The preposition <emphasis>a</emphasis> is also used after a conjugated verb that is followed by an infinitive:</p> <table frame="all" width="100%"> <title/> <tgroup cols="2"> <colspec colname="col1" colnum="1" colwidth="50%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="center"/> <colspec colname="col2" colnum="2" colwidth="50%" colsep="0" rowsep="0" align="center"/> <tbody> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>andare a</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>to go to…</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>aiutare a</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>to help to…</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>cominciare a</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>to start/begin to…</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>imparare a</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>to learn to…</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>incoraggiare a</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>to encourage to…</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>insegnare a</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>to teach to…</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>provare a</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>to try to…</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>riuscire a</emphasis></p></td> <td><p>to manage to…</p></td> </tr> </tbody> </tgroup> </table> <p><emphasis>Andiamo [a mangiare] al ristorante stasera.</emphasis> <emphasis role="Bolditalic">We are going to [eat in a] restaurant this evening.</emphasis></p> <p><emphasis>Imparo a parlare italiano.</emphasis> <emphasis role="Bolditalic">I am learning to speak Italian.</emphasis></p> <p><emphasis>Giovanni prova a sciare.</emphasis> <emphasis role="Bolditalic">Giovanni is trying to ski.</emphasis></p> <!--/gc--> <div id="pagination"><ul><li class="prev"><a href="http://www.netplaces.com/italian-practice/first-conjugation-verbs-prepositions-and-telling-time/interrogative-expressions.htm" title="Interrogative Expressions">Interrogative Expressions</a></li><li class="next"><a href="http://www.netplaces.com/italian-practice/first-conjugation-verbs-prepositions-and-telling-time/che-ora-che-ore-sono-telling-time-in-italian.htm" title="Che ora è? 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