Complex prepositions: how to use DEL, NEL, ALLA...

Do you know what complex prepositions or preposizioni articolate are? If you don't, then this article is for you!




Do you want to take your Italian to the next level? Check out my Online Italian course for beginners "Be Italiano" and start learning today to become a real Italiano, like me!

Many of you asked me to talk about complex prepositions or preposizioni articolate in Italian and in today's article, we will see just that. Complex prepositions might seem intimidating at first, but no worries, as you practice, they will become the most natural thing in the world. All my students are scared at first when they learn prepositions but then they start using them and realize how natural they are! Let's start!


Prepositions are little words used in Italian and English (and other languages) to convey different ideas (time, place, purpose, etc...) in a sentence. Prepositions can be simple or complex.


Simple prepositions are:


Di

A

Da

In

Con

Su

Per

Tra/Fra


Complex prepositions are the combination of a simple proposition with a definite article.


Not all prepositions can be complexed with an article though! The only ones we can combine are:


Di

A

Da

In

Su


First, remember that the definite articles are:

  • Il, lo, l'masculine singular word

  • Gli and i masculine plural words

  • La and l'feminine singular words

  • Lefemenine plural words

If you don't remember how definite articles work, check out this blog post.


So how do we combine definite articles with prepositions? It's very easy! You take the preposition and instead of adding the article itself, for phonetic reasons, you add these ending: l for il, llo for lo, ll' for l', gli for gli, i for i, lla for la, ll' for l' feminine and lle for le.


Sometimes you will also need to change the preposition itself:

  • Di → de

  • In → ne

Let's look at this useful table:

Let's some examples:

  • I go to university → Vado all'università

  • I go to the doctor → Vado dal dottore

  • I entered the shop → Sono entrato nel negozio

  • I am on the terrace → Sono sulla terrazza

  • These are my kids' toys → Questi sono i giochi dei miei figli

Sometimes also CON can be complexed only with il and i:

  • Il maestro è con i bambini → il maestro è coi bambini

  • Vado a cena con il figlio di Rebecca → Vado a cena col figlio di rebecca

You can choose to do this or not! It's really up to you and both of them work just fine!


This rule of adding articles to prepositions is an actual pattern in the Italian language. We do the same thing with quello (that) and bello (beautiful). Take a look at this table:


Some of you might also ask when we choose a simple preposition and when we choose a complex proposition. The rules behind this choice, are not related to prepositions themselves, but actually to definite articles' rules. So check out this video on my YouTube channel for more information on this!


We are done with today's article! I hope you liked it! If you have any questions, send me a message in the contact section of my website.


A presto,


Stefano


Do you want to take your Italian to the next level? Check out my Online Italian course for beginners "Be Italiano" and start learning today to become a real Italiano, like me!
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