Articulated Prepositions in Italian!

If you’ve watched our video on simple prepositions, now you’re ready to learn articulated prepositions! It seems like a big obstacle but… don’t worry!


First of all, how are the articulated prepositions formed?

They are formed by joining simple prepositions + determinate articles, creating a single word.

Not all simple prepositions, however, can form articulated prepositions; this happens only for the simple propositions di, a, da, in e su.

Here is a summary table of how all the articulated prepositions are formed:


So, the question arises spontaneously: how do we know whether to use a simple or articulated preposition? Unfortunately there is no infallible rule, but some tendencies. Let’s see them together! The cases in which you have to use the articulated prepositions are the same in which you have to use the simple ones…

1. We use articulated prepositions when the name that follows is plural


Vado negli Stati Uniti a Natale. (→ Stati Uniti is plural) (I’m going to the United States on for Christmas)

Questa è la scatola delle scarpe. (This is the shoe-box)

BUT we will use simple prepositions if the following name is singular

For example:

Vado in Francia a Natale. (I’ll go tu France for Christmas) (→ Francia is singular)

Ho voglia di cioccolato. (I want some chocolate)

ATTENTION! To express the origin or the return from a state (so with verbs such as “venire”, “tornare”, “ritornare”, etc.) we always use the articulated prepositions.

For example:

Vengo dall’Italia. (I come from Italy)

Sono appena tornato dalla Francia. (I’m just back from France)

2. We also use the articulated prepositions when the following noun is determined, specific and not generic

For example:

Vivo nell’Italia del Sud. (I live in southern Italy)(→ I’m indicating the zone of Italy where I’m living)

Vado alla scuola di mia figlia. (I’m going to my daughter’s school) (→ I want to indicate in which school i’m going to)

BUT we use simple prepositions to talk about something in general

For example:

Vivo in Italia. (I live in Italy) (→ generic)

Vado a scuola. (I go to school) (→ it’s not important indicating in which school)

3.  Generally, articulated preposition are also used before “geographical” names of seas, rivers, lakes, mountains…

For example:

Vado in vacanza sulle Alpi. (I’m going on a vacation to the Alps)

Faccio una crociera nel Mediterraneo. (I’m taking a cruise to the Mediterranean)

Mi bagno nel fiume Po. (I bathe in the river Po)

BUT simple prepositions must be used with city names

For example:

VadoBologna.(I’m off to Bologna)

Parto per Parigi. (I’m leaving for Paris)

Torno da Milano. (I’m back from Milan)

And you need to use simple prepositions even before names and surnames

For example:

Il regalo è per Giovanni. (The gift is for Giovanni)

Il libro è di Rossi. (The book belongs to Rossi)

Once we have determined which preposition we must use, we mustn’t forget that the articulated prepositions agree with the noun that follows like the definite articles. This means that we will use:

Dell’, all’, dall’, nell’, sull’ before singular feminine and masculine names that begin by vowel

– Della, alla, dalla, nella, sulla before singular feminine names starting with a consonant

Delle, alle, dalle, nelle, sulle before plural feminine names, both those that begin with a consonant and those that begin with a vowel

Del, al, dal, nel, sul before singular masculine names and dei, ai, dai, nei, sui before plural masculine names, unless the noun begins with z- and y- or s + consonant or gn-, ps-. In these cases we will use the singular dello, allo, dallo, nello e sullo and the plural degli, agli, dagli, negli, sugli.

BE CAREFUL! The simple preposition “con” can be combined with the definite articles, becoming:


The use of these forms, however, is not widespread, in fact it’s preferd to use the detached form “con il”, “con lo”, “con i”… However, it’s important that you know that both forms are correct.

For example:

Sbuccio la mela con il coltello.

Sbuccio la mela col coltello.

(I peel the apple with the knife)

Obviously, as we can presume, the simple prepositions per, tra, fra when they are followed by the definite article remain unchanged, that is, don’t join the article.

For example:

Questo è il detersivo per il bucato. (This i the laundry detergent)

Now you’re ready for the grammar test and our prepositions test!

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

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