Italian Prepositions of Time: DA vs PER

Struggling with Italian Prepositions of time? In today's article, we are going to look at the difference between the preposition DA and the preposition PER.



In today's article, we are going to talk about two Italian prepositions (DA and PER) that are used for many purposes, and one of them is to express time. They are a bit tricky but I am sure this article will help you understand which one to use.


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1. Preposition DA


This preposition is used when the action has started in the past but hasn’t finished yet, it’s still ongoing in the present. This is one of the most common mistakes English speakers make in Italian! Let me show you some examples:


Studio italiano da 17 anni → I’ve been studying Italian for 17 years.


Here, we can see two big differences between Italian and English:

  • In Italian, we’re just using the present “studio”, whereas in English we’re using a past progressive. And using the present makes total sense because I’m still studying Italian.

  • In English you use "for" but in Italian we use "da" not "per".


This action started in the past, specifically 17 years ago, but it’s still ongoing because I am still studying Italian.


Other examples are:

  • Vivo in Italia da 10 anni → I’ve been living in Italy for 10 years.

  • Gioco a calcio da quando ero piccolo → I’ve played soccer since I was a child.



2. Preposition PER


The preposition "per" is used to talk about an action that started in the past but has finished or will start in the future and will finish. Or a limited action, whatsoever.


  • Corro per un’ora e poi faccio una doccia → I’ll go for a run for one hour and then I’ll take a shower. Here I know that I am going out now to run for one hour, so this action eventually starts now and will finish in one hour.

  • Vado in vacanza a Roma per due settimane → I am going on vacation to Rome for two weeks. I know that this action is limited because it’s supposed to last two weeks only.


Now let's look at two sentences to compare the use of DA vs the use of PER.


Ho studiato italiano per 17 anni.


In this case, I am saying that I studied Italian for 17 years, but now I don’t study it anymore. I don't know exactly when I started or when I stopped, but I do know that this action is finished and lasted 17 years.


Studio italiano da 17 anni.


With DA, I am saying that I started 17 years ago and this action is still ongoing now. Furthermore, I am using the present with the preposition DA, whereas with PER I am using the past as the action is 100% in the past.



Ok guys! We are done for today’s article! Did you like it? We will also need to talk about the prepositions IN and TRA, which are very confusing, especially for English speakers. If you want me to do an article on this topic let me know and I’ll do it as soon as I can.


If you have any questions about this topic, don't hesitate to 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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