The use of Italian prepositions: definition, meaning, types of prepositions

How to use prepositions in Italian? This is a question that our students often ask us. Indeed, it is not always easy to understand which ones to use and how.

Italian is a very fascinating and musical language and a large number of foreigners are eager to learn it and, why not, to discover its grammatical and lexical peculiarities;  prepositions hold a privileged position as parts of speech and using them correctly is essential to learning to communicate and write italian correctly. Let us see here below the definition of “prepositions”, the different types and their use in the Italian language.  

Definition of prepositions

Prepositions are invariable items of the speech that precede a name, a pronoun, an adverb or an infinitive verb (the name comes from  the Latin „praeponere“ “to put in front of”), used to specify its syntactic function, i.e. the correct sentence construction. They then link these elements that constitute the proposition creating “relationships” between them.

Types of prepositions and their use in Italian

Among the various types of preposition of the Italian language we distinguish the following classifications:

  • simple prepositions: there are 9 of them: di, a, da, in, con, su, per, tra, fra;   their particularity is that they do not require the use of an accent and can be combined with the article giving origin to the
  • articulated prepositions that will become, if necessary  del (di+il), al (al+il), dal (da+il) nel (in+il) etc.  The articulated prepositions del, dello etc. are also used with the function of partitive article that refer to an unspecified quantity of something, as for example in the phrase “I ate some bread”.

Their role is exclusively of preposition, so let’s say a binder; except for the preposition su (on),combined with a verb serves as an adverb:andare su, venire su”; (going up,come up) this means that it adds meaning to the verb and follows it rather than precede it.

To simplify your comprehension, here a table with the possible combinations of the articulated prepositions:

  IL LO L’ LA I GLI LE
DI del dello dell’ della dei degli delle
A al allo all’ alla ai agli alle
DA dal dallo dall’ dalla dai dagli dalle
IN nel nello nell’ nella nei negli nelle
SU sul sullo sull’ sulla sui sugli sulle
  • improper prepositions: davanti, dietro, dopo, fuori, lontano, lungo, mediante, prima, sopra, sotto; they can not be articulated. Unlike the simple prepositions they can take the function of adjective, verb or adverb, depending on the case.

Let’s now look at some practical examples regarding the use of prepositions in their simple and compound form:

  • “Il clima della penisola italiana in estate è molto piacevole”;” The climate of the Italian peninsula in the summer is very pleasant”;
  • “Studiare l’Italiano in una scuola per stranieri è di grande aiuto”; Studying Italian in a school for foreigners is of great help“;
  • Dopo una bella passeggiata al sole è bello rilassarsi all’ombra”; “After a nice walk in the sun it is nice to relax in the shade“
  • “L’anno prossimo alloggeremo nello stesso hotel davanti alla spiaggia”“ Next year we will stay in the same hotel in front of the beach“

As you can see the world of prepositions and their use in Italian is complicated but fascinating to be explored; why not approach the Italian language or deepen your basic knowledge by following a course organized by an Italian language school? Our school AbcElba, located in the beautiful island of Elba in Tuscany, is at your disposal to provide you with all the information and support you need

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