OK, I admit it. I’ve never really gotten the hang of prepositions in Italian.
It’s not so much that the prepositions themselves are hard to remember. For the most part, they’re straightforward.
It’s the differences in use between my language (English) and Italian which always trip me up.
Like a lot of foreigners, I’m prone to making typical mistakes when saying things like:
“I live in Bologna” (Abito a Bologna)
“Thanks for everything” (Grazie di tutto)
So, today I’m going to ask YOU to help ME with my Italian prepositions.
Let me explain.
Looking up prepositions in a grammar book or online course is the work of a few minutes. You’ll easily find a list of Italian prepositions, with English translations, like this one:
di (‘of’, ‘belonging to’)
da (‘from’, ‘by’)
in (‘in’ ‘at’ for school subjects)
per (‘for’, ‘in order to’)
tra (‘among’, ‘between’)
fra (‘among’, ‘between’)
Of course, there’s the additional complication of the preposition/definite article combinations:
il lo la i gli le di del dello della dei degli delle a al allo alla ai agli alle da dal dallo dalla dai dagli dalle in nel nello nella nei negli nelle su sul sullo sulla sui sugli sulle
But in a couple of hours most of us would be able to memorise these without too much stress.
My problem is that just “knowing” them doesn’t seem to stop me from getting them wrong regularly when I speak or write.
So, I figured that what I really need is a list of examples where the use in Italian is different from the use in English. In effect a list of areas where I’m likely to get it wrong.
Now, if I could memorise THOSE, I’d be sorted. Right?
Unfortunately, no such list appears to exist on the Internet.
Ever heard of “crowd-sourcing”?
It’s the idea that a (large) group of people, each contributing something small, can achieve something that might otherwise be impossible.
Funding a business start up, for example, or providing the manpower for a charity or scientifiic project.
Hey, I thought. WE could do that.
OnlineItalianClub.com members could work TOGETHER to produce a list of typical errors to avoid.
We could all think of instances where Italian uses prepositions differently, then share our ideas to produce a list of examples, like this one:
I’m not good at maths (“Non sono bravo in matematica”)
OK, so what I want you to do as soon as you finish reading this is to think of the prepositions YOU typically get wrong, and especially where the use of prepositions is obviously different in Italian and your own language, as in the examples above.
You could go through your homework from previous courses, for example. Or do a prepositions exercise in a grammar book or on a website, to see which ones you get wrong. Or even ask your teacher (if you have one) for suggestions.
You have to identify your typical preposition mistakes, analyse what causes them, and share that information with us by commenting on this article.
Then I’ll do my bit: I’ll edit out any duplications, get my (Italian) wife to check everything, and “Voila”, we’ll have a check list of typical errors which we can all try to avoid in future!
So, ready to lend a hand? Great! Click here to add your contribution.