Easy Learning Italian

a, di, da, in, su and per - Easy Learning Grammar Italian

1  a

  • a is used with nouns to tell you where.
alla portaat the door
al solein the sun
all’ombrain the shade
Vivo al terzo piano.I live on the third floor.
È a letto.He’s in bed.
alla radioon the radio
alla tivùon TV
  • Use a to mean to when you’re talking about going to a place.
Andiamo al cinema?Shall we go to the cinema?
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.
Andrò in Germania quest’estate.I’m going to Germany this summer.
  • Use a to mean at when you’re talking about being at a place.
Devo essere all’aeroporto alle dieci.I’ve got to be at the airport at ten.
Scendo alla prossima fermata.I’m getting off at the next stop.
Luigi è a casa.Luigi is at home.
  • Use a to mean in when you’re talking about being in a town.
Abitano a Bologna.They live in Bologna.
  • Note that if the place is a country, use in in Italian.
Vivo in Scozia.I live in Scotland.
Vive in Canada.He lives in Canada.
  • Use a to mean away when you’re talking about distances.
a tre chilometri da quithree kilometres away from here
a due ore di distanza in macchinatwo hours away by car
  • Note that away can be left out of this kind of phrase, but a has to be used in Italian.
L’albergo è ad un chilometro dalla spiaggia.The hotel is a kilometre from the beach.
  • a is used with nouns to tell you when.
a volteat times
a tempoon time
alla finein the end
  • Use a to mean at with times and festivals.
alle cinqueat five o’clock
a mezzogiornoat midday
al fine settimanaat the weekend
a Pasquaat Easter
a Nataleat Christmas
TipRemember that questions beginning What time … must start with the preposition a in Italian.
A che ora parti?What time are you leaving?
  • Use a with months to mean in.
Sono nata a maggio.I was born in May.
  • a is used with nouns to tell you how.
a piedion foot
a manoby hand
a poco a pocolittle by little
  • Use a with flavours.
un gelato alla fragolaa strawberry ice cream
una torta al cioccolatoa chocolate cake
gli spaghetti al pomodorospaghetti with tomato sauce
  • a is used with nouns and pronouns after some verbs.
L’ho dato a Selene.I gave it to Selene.
Piace a me, ma a mia sorella no.I like it, but my sister doesn’t.
A che cosa stai pensando?What are you thinking about?
  • Note that the unstressed pronouns mi, ti, gli, le, ci and vi come in front of the verb and are not used with a.
Ti ha parlato?Did she speak to you?
Gliel’ho dato.I gave it to her.
Mi piace.I like it.
  • a is used with the infinitive (the –re form of the verb)to say what your purpose is.
Sono uscita a fare due passi.I went out for a little walk.
Sono andati a fare il bagno.They’ve gone to have a swim.

2  di

  • di is used to talk about who or what something belongs to.
il nome del ristorantethe name of the restaurant
il capitano della squadrathe captain of the team
È di Marco.It belongs to Marco.
Di chi è?Whose is it?
  • Use di to refer to the person who made something.
un quadro di Picassoa picture by Picasso
una commedia di Shakespearea play by Shakespeare
un film di Fellinia Fellini film
  • In English, ownership can be shown by using a noun with ‘s, or s’ added to it, for example the child’s name, the boys’ teacher. In Italian you change the word order and use di to translate this sort of phrase.
la macchina di mia madremy mother’s car (literally: the car of my mother)
la casa dei miei amicimy friends’ house
l’Otello di VerdiVerdi’s Othello
  • In English, when there is a connection between two things, one noun can be used in front of another, for example the car keys, the bathroom window. In Italian you change the word order and use di to translate this sort of phrase.
il tavolo della cucinathe kitchen table
il periodo delle vacanze the holiday season
il professore di inglesethe English teacher
il campione del mondothe world champion
  • When a noun such as cotton, silver, paper is used as an adjective, use di in Italian.
una maglietta di cotonea cotton T-shirt
una collana d’argentoa silver necklace
dei tovaglioli di cartapaper napkins
  • di sometimes means from.
È di Firenze.He’s from Florence.
Di dove sei?Where are you from?
  • di is used to say what something contains or what it is made of.
un gruppo di studentia group of students
un bicchiere di vinoa glass of wine
È fatto di plastica.It’s made of plastic.
  • di is used after milione (meaning million), and words for approximate numbers, such as un migliaio (meaning about a thousand) and una ventina (meaning about twenty).
un milione di dollaria million dollars
un migliaio di personeabout a thousand people
una ventina di macchineabout twenty cars
  • di is used after certain verbs and adjectives.
Ti ricordi di Laura?Do you remember Laura?
Sto tentando di concentrarmi.I’m trying to concentrate.
Le arance sono ricche di vitamina C.Oranges are rich in vitamin C.
Era pieno di gente.It was full of people.
TipRemember that some verbs are single words in English, but in Italian they are phrases ending with di, for example, aver bisogno di (meaning to need) and aver voglia di (meaning to want).
Non ho bisogno di niente.I don’t need anything.
Non ho voglia di andare a letto.I don’t want to go to bed.
  • di is used with nouns to say when.
di domenicaon Sundays
di notteat night
di giornoduring the day
  • Use di to mean in with seasons and parts of the day.
d’estatein summer
d’invernoin winter
  • Note that in can also be used with seasons, for example, in estate (meaning in summer).
di mattinain the morning
di serain the evening
  • di is used in comparisons to mean than.
È più alto di me.He’s taller than me.
È più brava di lui.She’s better than him.
  • Use di to mean in after a superlative.
il più grande del mondothe biggest in the world
la più brava della classethe best in the class
il migliore d’Italiathe best in Italy
TipÈ più bravo di tutti and è più brava di tutti are ways of saying He’s the best and She’s the best.
  • del, della, dei, delle and so on (di combined with the definite article) are used to mean some.
C’era della gente che aspettava.There were some people waiting.
Vuoi dei biscotti?Would you like some biscuits?
  • di is used with the infinitive (the –re form of the verb) when it is used as a noun.
Ho paura di volare.I’m afraid of flying.
Non ho voglia di mangiare.I don’t feel like eating.

3  da

  • da is used with places to mean from.
a tre chilometri da quithree kilometres from here.
Viene da Roma.He comes from Rome.
  • Use da to talk about getting, jumping or falling off something, or getting or falling out of something.
Chiara è scesa dal treno.Chiara got off the train.
Il vaso è cascato dal terrazzo.The plant pot fell off the balcony.
Il gatto è saltato dal muro.The cat jumped off the wall.
È scesa dalla macchina.She got out of the car.
Sono cascato dal letto.I fell out of bed.
  • Note that da ... a... means fromto
da cima a fondofrom top to bottom
dalle otto alle diecifrom eight to ten
  • Use da with andare to say you’re going to a shop, or to someone’s house or workplace.
Vado dal giornalaio.I’m going to the paper shop.
È andato dal dentista.He’s gone to the dentist’s.
Andiamo da Gabriele?Shall we go to Gabriele’s house?
  • Use da with essere to say you’re at a shop, or at someone’s house or workplace.
Laura è dal parucchiere.Laura’s at the hairdresser’s.
Sono da Anna.I’m at Anna’s house.
  • da is used to talk about how long something has been happening.
  • Use da with periods of time to mean for.
Vivo qui da un anno.I’ve been living here for a year.
  • Use da with points in time to mean since.
da allorasince then
Ti aspetto dalle tre.I’ve been waiting for you since three o’clock.
  • Note that the present tense is used in Italian to talk about what has been happening for a period, or since a certain time.
È a Londra da martedì.He’s been in London since Tuesday.
  • da is used with passive verbs to mean by.
dipinto da un grande artistapainted by a great artist
I ladri sono stati catturati dalla polizia.The thieves were caught by the police.
  • da is used with the infinitive (the –re form of the verb) when you’re talking about things to do.
C’è molto da fare.There’s lots to do.
È un film da vedere.It’s a film that you’ve got to see.
Non c’è niente da mangiare.There’s 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 one 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 corsaa new pair of running shoes
Paolo non ha il costume da bagno.Paolo hasn’t got his swimming trunks.
  • da is used when describing someone or something.
una ragazza dagli occhi azzurria girl with blue eyes
un vestito da cento euroa dress costing a hundred euros
  • da is used with nouns to mean as.
Da bambino avevo paura del buio.As a child I was afraid of the dark.

4  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.
È nel cassetto.It’s in the drawer.
  • Note that in the case of towns you use a in Italian.
Abitano a Bologna.They live in Bologna.
TipYou don’t use in with adverbs such as qui (meaning here) and (meaning there).
qui dentroin here
lì dentroin there
  • Use in with andare to mean to when you’re talking about where someone or something is going to, except in the case of towns.
Andrò in Germania quest’estate.I’m going to Germany this summer.
È andato in ufficio.He’s gone to the office.
  • Note that in the case of towns you use a in Italian.
Sei mai stato a New York?Have you ever been to New York?
Tipessere in vacanza means to be on holiday, andare in vacanza means to go on holiday.
  • Use in to mean into when you’re 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.
  • Note that in is also used with verbs such as dividere (meaning to divide) and tagliare (meaning to cut).
L’ha tagliato in due.She cut it into two.
  • Use in to mean in with years, seasons and months.
nel duemilasediciin two thousand and sixteen
in estatein summer
in ottobrein October
  • Note that you can also use di with seasons (d’estate) and a with months (ad ottobre).
  • in is used with periods of time to mean in.
L’ha fatto in sei mesi.He did it in six months.
Puoi finirlo in trenta minuti.You can finish it in thirty minutes.
  • in is used with modes of transport to mean by.
Siamo andati in treno.We went by train.
È meglio andare 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.
È scritto in tedesco.It’s written in German.

5  su

  • Use su to mean on.
Il tuo telefonino è sul pavimento.Your mobile phone is on the floor.
Mettilo sulla sedia.Put it on the chair.
È sulla sinistra.It’s on the left.
  • Note that sul giornale means in the newspaper.
L’ho letto sul giornale.I read it in the newspaper.
Tipqui su and qua su mean up here. combines with su to make one word with a double s: lassù (meaning up there).
Siamo qui su.We’re up here.
Eccoli lassù.They’re up there.
  • su is used with topics to mean about.
un libro sugli animalia book about animals
  • su is used with numbers:
  • to talk about ratios
in tre casi su dieciin three cases out of ten
due giorni su tretwo days out of three
  • with an article and a number to indicate an approximate amount
È costato sui cinquecento euro.It cost around five hundred euros.
È sulla trentina.She’s about thirty.

6  per

  • per often means for.
Questo è per te.This is for you.
È troppo difficile per lui.It’s too difficult for him.
L’ho comprato per trenta euro.I bought it for thirty euros.
Ho guidato per trecento chilometri.I drove for three hundred kilometres.
  • Note that when you are talking about how long you have been doing something you use da.
Aspetto da un pezzo.I’ve been waiting for a while.
  • per is used with destinations.
il volo per Londrathe flight to London
il treno per Romathe 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 postaby post
per via aereaby airmail
per emailby email
per ferroviaby rail
per telefonoby or on the phone
  • Note that per is NOT used when referring to means of transport for people, in is used instead.
in macchina by car
  • 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.
È successo per errore.It happened by mistake.
  • per is used in some very common phrases.
uno per unoone by one
giorno per giornoday by day
una per voltaone at a time
due per tretwo times three

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