Italian Prepositions & Prepositional Articles

Weilà raga! How are you all today? I hope well! Today I'm going to be talking to you guys about Italian Prepositional Articles. This has been a highly requested topic and I'm happy to finally sit down and talk about it!


First thing's first, below you'll find a chart that you can use to see how you form prepositional articles. Treat it like a multiplication or addition table. 

On the top row we have the Italian Definite Articles (the), if you're unfamiliar with them or need a brushing up, I highly recommend checking out the video I've done on them before moving on. You can click here to see it now or check out the video later down below where you can watch it directly on this page without having to leave to go over to YouTube. I also recommend checking out all of my other Grammar Basics videos, I feel its good to have an understanding of everything I went over in those videos so you can better be able to fully understand how to use the Italian Prepositional Articles in different contexts. I'll put links for everything down below.


On the left most column we have the Italian Prepositions (at, in, of, for, on respectively). When you put the Prepositions and the Definite Articles together, you form a Prepositional Article! And that's what we have in Italics (slanted font). Prepositional Articles are used to say things like "on the" or "from the," for example.


Before we move on to seeing how all of this works, please note that in this blog post I'll be using the verb "essere" in all of my examples, whereas in the video I used "stare."


So here's how you work the chart, read it like this to form the Italian Prepositional Articles:

a + il = al

a + la = alla  

a + i = ai

a + le = alle

a lo = allo

a + gli agli

a + l' = all'   


Now I'm going to get into explaining everything:


Here are the Prepositions and their meanings: 

a = at/in/to

in = in/at

di = of

da = from

su = on


All of the Definite Articles (il, la, i, le, lo, gli, l') mean "the." 


Let's now break down every single one of these Prepositions and see some examples:


First up is "a" which means "at, to, & in"


  • "a" means "at" when you're saying things like, "I'm at home" = "Sono a casa." Its a perfect, literal translation.
  • "a" means "in" when you're talking about being "in" a City or Town. For example: "I'm in Rome" = "Sono a Roma." 
  • "a" means "to" when you're talking about going "to" a place, City or Town. For example: "I'm going to work" = "Vado al lavoro." Or, "I'm going to Rome" = "Vado a Roma."

I'd like to take a minute to explain "vado al lavoro" a little further. The reason why I said "al" instead of "a" is because the phrase broken down would be this: "vado a il lavoro." Because we have "a + il" in the sentence, we have to combine them to form a Prepositional Article. As the chart shows us above, "a + il = al." 


Now, let's move on to "in" which means "in" and sometimes "to"


  • "In" means "in" when you are talking about a person or an object being "in" something. For example, "It is in the box" = "È nella scatola." 
    • If we broke down this phrase we'd have: "È in la scatola." We have "in" followed by "la," and like the chart above shows us, "in + la = nella." 
  • "In" also means "in" when you are talking about being "in" a Country, State or Region. For example, "I'm in Italy" = "Sono in Italia." A nice, literal translation.
  • "In" means "to" when you are talking about going "to" a Country, State or Region. For example, "I'm going to Italy" = "Vado in Italia."

Next we have "di" which means "of" and sometimes "from"

  • "di" means "of" when you're talking about possession. For example, "This is Tom's video" = "Questo è il video di Tom." In Italian, whenever you're saying something like "Tom's video" you have to think of it as "the video of Tom." 
    • (Ever wonder where last names like "Di Francesco" originated? Well, in the olden days you referred to someone as being "of" a specific family or person. That's why another name for "last name" or "surname" is "family name." If my last name were "Di Francesco" that would mean that I am the son of Francesco or that I came from the family referred to as Francesco. Same thing in other cultures with surnames like "O'Riley" or "McRoberts" and so on.)
  • "di" also means "of" when you're talking about what something is made "of." For example: "the desk is made of wood" = "la scrivania è fatta di legno."
  • "di" can also mean "from" when asking where someone is from. But only when we're involving the verb "essere." For example, "Di dove sei?" = "Where are you from?"

Next is "da" which means "from"


  • "da" means "from" in a similar way to "di" except for the fact that the verb "essere" is not involved. For example, "I received a gift from Tom" = "Ho ricevuto un regalo da Tom." 
  • "da" is also used whenever you're talking about going to someone's house. To say "I'm going to Tom's" or "I'm going to Tom's house" in Italian you'd say, "Vado da Tom." This is an example of what I refer to as "the Italian way" of saying something, because its not a literal translation. This also goes for when you're saying that you're going to the doctor's, "vado dal dottore" = "I'm going to the doctor's." 

Finally we have "su" which means "on"

  • "su" means "on" when you want to say something like, "The book is on the table" = "il libro è sulla tavola."

Now, you may find as you study Italian further that there are some other uses for these Prepositions. Just to give you an example, "da" can be used when you're asking someone "how long" they've been somewhere. But to explain just that is a whole lesson in and of itself. My objective today is just to introduce you guys to these Prepositions, their main uses, and how they work with Definite Articles to become Prepositional Articles. 


I hope I was clear and made sense! I know it can seem very confusing at first and like there are tons of rules, but with time and practice it will become easier, trust me! These rules rarely cross my mind when I speak Italian, but that's because I'm comfortable with speaking it and have been doing so for years. As with everything, and especially language, "practice makes perfect."


Here is the video that correlates with this blog post:

Here is the Definite Article video I mentioned a couple of times above:

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