OMISSION of the ARTICLE in Italian: When NOT to use it with Expressions and Locutions

In this lesson, we will continue to talk about the omission of the article: if you remember, I had already talked about the cases in which in Italian the article is omitted in front of proper nouns and geographical nouns, as well as in front of complements of time, place, matter and manner. In this lesson we are going to take up the subject again and we will deal instead with adverbial and verbal locutions and, more or less, fixed expressions introduced by preposition in which nouns are not introduced by the article. Ok now it may all seem confusing, but if you stick with me you’ll see that it will all make sense! At the end of the lesson you will also find a little story full of very useful examples.

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When not to use the article with expressions and locutions

In order to facilitate memorization, I decided to divide the different phrases and expressions according to the preposition they are introduced by. Oh yes, prepositions… The great friends of foreigners learning Italian!!

I will provide you with a list of fixed or idiomatic expressions for each preposition, along with their relative meanings. Unfortunately, there is no way to remember them other than by memorizing them. An effective way to try to remember them is to learn them with a verb first, so that you have a sentence in context ready to use.

DI

Let’s begin with the preposition DI.

Expressions of manner:
– di corsa, di fretta, (tuffarsi/buttarsi) di testa, di proposito (=apposta), di base, di norma (=solitamente).

– in a hurry, (dive/bounce) head on, on purpose, based, normally (=usually).

Expressions of cause:
– di freddo, di caldo, (soffrire) di vertigini / d’asma, (essere malati / morire) di cancro, di diabete, (morire) di fame, di sete, di stenti, di crepacuore.

of cold, of heat, (suffer) from dizziness/asthma, (be sick/die) from cancer, from diabetes, (die) from hunger, from thirst, from hardship, from heartbreak. 

A

We now move on to the preposition A, which can introduce:

Expressions of quantity: a quintali, a bizzeffe; (by the quintal, a ton)

Espressions of manner:
– a piedi, a spasso, a gambe levate, a tutto gas, a tutta birra (=molto velocemente), a gonfie vele (=senza inciampi, favorevolmente), a caso, a casaccio, a proposito (=per quanto riguarda…), a modo / a modino (=accuratamente, con garbo), a stento, a fatica, a malapena, a vicenda, a malincuore (=purtroppo, contro voglia), a occhio, a sentimento (=in una quantità non precisa), a naso (=basandosi sul proprio istinto), (mandare/andare) a rotoli (=in rovina).

on foot, on the run, at full throttle (=very quickly), at full speed (=without stumbling, favorably), at random, by the way (=as far as…), accurately, with difficulty, with effort, with each other, reluctantly (=unfortunately, against my will), by eye, by feeling (=in an imprecise amount), by nose (=based on one’s instinct), (send/go) to ruin.

There are also double expressions, in which the preposition A is placed between two identical nouns: faccia a faccia, poco a poco, mano a mano ecc.

(face to face, little by little, hand to hand)

DA

The preposition DA introduces several fixed expressions, such as:
– da piccolo, da bambino (=quando ero piccolo/bambino); (fare) da padre / da tutore / da guida ecc.; occhiali da vista, costume da bagno, vestito da sera, scarpe da tennis, tuta da ginnastica, pista da ballo, sala da pranzo, cane da compagnia, bastone da passeggio ecc.

as a child, as a toddler (=when I was a baby/child); (do) as a father/guardian/guide etc.; eyeglasses, bathing suit, evening dress, tennis shoes, tracksuit, dance floor, dining room, pet dog, walking stick etc.

IN

We have already seen some expressions with the preposition IN in the previous lesson, but let’s now look at some fixed expressions:
– in realtà, in effetti, in pratica, in teoria, in concreto, in astratto, in fondo, in genere, in poche parole, in orario, in tempo, in futuro, in anticipo, in ritardo, in parte, in stallo (=in pausa), in assenza/mancanza (di), in presenza, in giro, in fretta, in fretta e furia, in modo (da) / in modo (… diverso, carino ecc.), in tutta sincerità, in caso (=al limite, se non si può fare altrimenti).

in reality, in fact, in practice, in theory, in concrete, in the abstract, in the background, in kind, in a few words, on time, in the future, early, late, in part, stalled (=in a pause), in the absence/lack (of), in the presence, around, in a hurry, in a way (by) /in a way (… different, nice etc.), in all sincerity, in case (=at the limit, if you can’t do otherwise).

CON

We already talked about this preposition in the last lesson, in particular we mentioned abstract examples (con pazienza, con forza, con passione) (with patience, with strength, with passion) in which the article is omitted, and concrete examples (con le mani, con la testa, col coltello) (with the hands, with the head, with the knife) in which usually the article is used.

SU

There are a few cases where the preposition SU introduces a noun unaccompanied by an article.
For example:
-su suggerimento (di), su consiglio (di), su proposta (di).

on the suggestion (of), on the advice (of), on the proposal (of).

PER

There are several expressions introduced by the preposition PER, such as:
– per esempio, per caso, per scherzo, per gioco, per amore, per semplicità, per fortuna, per contro (=al contrario), per tempo (= in anticipo), per ora (=al momento), per cena, per pranzo, per colazione.

for example, by chance, by joke, by play, by love, by simplicity, by luck, by against (=on the contrary), by time (=in advance), by now (=at the moment), by dinner, by lunch, by breakfast.

There are also negative expressions such as:
– neanche per sogno, nemmeno per idea, (non dirlo) neanche per scherzo, (non succede) neanche per sbaglio.

not even by dream, not even by idea, (don’t say it) not even as a joke, (it doesn’t happen) not even by accident.

TRA e FRA

TRA e FRA, in most cases, are always followed by nouns introduced by the article.

 

Let’s now look together at a monologue that contains many useful examples:

 

(On the phone)

– Ciao Ste! Ti disturbo? Scusami, so che sei di fretta, ma ti chiamo per un’emergenza: in pratica sono a piedi davanti al parrucchiere e sul tetto del palazzo di fronte c’è un cagnolino che non riesce più a scendere, fuori ci sono 2 gradi quindi starà morendo di freddo e probabilmente anche di fame, ogni tanto abbaia ma a fatica, non so come sia finito lì sopra, probabilmente era a spasso col padrone e per caso è finito nel palazzo, anche se in tutta sincerità non so proprio come sia potuto arrivare sul tetto… Sono qui che lo guardo a malincuore da un quarto d’ora, spero solo non soffra di vertiginiPer fortuna qui vicino c’è la stazione dei vigili del fuoco, li ho appena chiamati e spero arrivino in tempoIn poche parole ti chiamo solo per dirti che non so se riuscirò ad arrivare in orario per cena, in caso inizia pure a mangiare senza di me. Per ora la situazione è in stallo, ma spero si risolva presto e spero veramente che non capiti mai più in futuro! Anche perché di norma qui non succede mai nulla di strano!

[Hi Ste! Am I disturbing you? Sorry, I know you’re in a hurry, but I’m calling about an emergency: basically I’m walking in front of the hairdresser’s and on the roof of the building in front of me there’s a little dog who can’t get down anymore, it’s 2 degrees outside so he must be dying of cold and probably starving, he barks every now and then but with difficulty, he was probably walking with his owner and by chance he ended up in the building, even if honestly I don’t know how he ended up there, I’ve been here looking at him sadly for fifteen minutes, I just hope he doesn’t suffer from vertigoLuckily there is a fire station nearby, I just called them and I hope they arrive in timeIn a few words I’m just calling to tell you that I don’t know if I’ll be able to get there on time for dinner, it that’s the case you start eating without me. For now the situation is stalled, but I hope it will be resolved soon and I really hope it never happens again in the future! Also because usually nothing weird ever happens here!]

 

And here we are at the end of the lesson! Hoping they were able to get the poor little dog back, I also hope you found this lesson helpful!

If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend you go check out the first lesson on this topic, the one where I talk about the cases where proper nouns, geographic nouns, and some complements are NOT accompanied by the article.

 

Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!

 

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