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Italian Made Fun & Simple


To date we have been seeing prepositions in our lessons. However, we have not learned much about them and how they are used. The next several lessons will be dedicated to learning the concepts for usage of prepositions in the Italian language. We will take one preposition per issue and elaborate. At the end we will have a summary lesson and go through an exercise evaluation process. The first one is:

The Italian preposition A

The Italian preposition a can mean “to,” “at,” or “in,” depending on how you use it in context. You will need preposition a in the following cases:

1. To express the idea of going somewhere or staying somewhere (with names
of cities):

Vado a Palermo. (I go to Palermo.)

Vado al supermercato ogni venerdì. (I go to the supermarket every Friday.)

Si trova a Firenze. (It can be found in Florence.)

Si trova alla piazza. (It can be found in the plaza.)

2. Before indirect objects:

Scriva a Teresa. (He/she writes to Theresa.)

Scriviamo allo zio. (We write to our aunt.)

Telefonano agli amici. (They call their friends.)

3. The preposition a is also used with several verbs. Often those are verbs of motion, but in other instances it’s a case of usage. That means either you’ll have to commit them to memory, or, more likely, you’ll grow accustomed to the usage over time as you listen and read Italian:

andare a… (to go to)

fermarsi a… (to stop)

incoraggiare a… (to encourage)

invitare a… (to invite to)

insegnare a… (to teach)

riuscire a… (to succeed)

venire a… (to come to)

4. To form several grammatical constructions with particular significance:

a mezzonotte (at midnight)

alle due (at two)

barca a vela (sailboat)

sedia a rotelle (wheelchair)

You note that a as do other prepositions combines with articoli determinative (definite articles) il, lo, l’, la, i, gli, and le into one word contractions, As such a + il becomes al. Here is a chart showing a + definite articles forms: at, to al allo all’ alla ai agli alle.

Let’s try an exercises using a. Fill in the blank with the a or the required a contraction. Then translate the sentence. Example: Vado ______ Filadelfia domani. Vado a Filadelfia domani. I am going to Philadelphia tomorrow.

1. La presentazione comincia ________ nove. The presentation begins at 9.

2. Scriviamo spesso ________ zii. We write often to our aunts and uncles.

3. Lui vive ________ Milano, ma lavora ________ Verona. He lives in Milan, but works in Verona.

4. Finalmente comincio ________ capire la grammatica inglese! Finally I am learning to understand English grammar.

5. A che ora torni ________ casa? ________ cinque? At what time do you return home? At 5?

6. Andiamo ________ Taormina ogni estate. We go to Taormina every summer.

7. Giovanna studia ________ Perugia. Giovanna studies in Perugia.

8. Lei e`nata ________ New York. She was born in New York.

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