Sunday, October 28, 2007

Some tips for using the prepositions "in" and "a"

"A" and "in" are, like most Italian prepositions, best learned idiomatically. They often cannot be translated into English. For example, in Italian, you say "andare in bicicletta", whereas in English you'd say to go ON or BY bike. Or, in another example, you say in Italian "andare a piedi" when in English you'd say to go ON or BY foot. That said, there are a few general rules that can help you remember when to use which preposition:

1) Use the simple preposition "in" when you are talking about general locations (especially indoor locations): preferisco studiare in biblioteca, balliamo in discoteca, diamo un esame in classe. An important exception to this is the word "casa", which takes the preposition "a": studio a casa, torniamo a casa dopo la lezione, etc.

2) use the simple preposition "in" with the names of continents (in Africa, in Europa), countries (in Italia, in America), regions (in Toscana, in New England) and large islands (in Sicilia).

3) use the simple preposition "in" when you are talking about mechanical means of transportation: andare in macchina, viaggiare in treno, andare in motorino, etc.

4) use the simple preposition "a" when you are talking about non mechanical means of transportation: andare a cavallo, andare a piedi

5) use the simple preposition "a" with the names of cities and small islands: abito a Waterville, facciamo le vacanze a Capri.


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