As far as I understand:

  • In is a preposition;
  • La is an article;
  • Nella is an articulated preposition, which is formed by the combination of in and la.

That being said, as I was writing a text, I was unsure of whether I should use

È necessario prenderlo in mano in cancelleria?


È necessario prenderlo in mano nella cancelleria?

The second example seems more suitable to me, as I am further specifying the object (in this case, chancellery) with the use of a definite article. Nevertheless, I am not sure about it.

Is in or nella more usual in this context? Or can I use either?

  • 3
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    – Charo
    Nov 5, 2019 at 20:19

1 Answer 1


Both are correct and usual. The first sounds a bit more like you are talking about something that has to be done in any cancelleria, anyplace that happens to be a cancelleria, while the second might suggest that you and the person you are speaking to have in mind a specific place, and has a more direct reference to the physical place where the cancelleria is located.

But these are not absolute differences, and are possibly less significant than regional differences: to my ear, the former is a bit more likely uttered by someone from Northern Italy than the latter.

P.S. I know this is not the subject of the question, but what has to be taken in mano there? As phrased, the sentence almost seems to have some sexual reference. Didn't you by any chance mean prendere di persona (in person) or something?

  • Thanks! About the "in mano", I could swear I heard it somewhere. I am probably confusing with Portuguese's "em mãos".
    – Renato
    Nov 5, 2019 at 19:50
  • @DaG It's not very relevant, but in mano to me sounds perfectly normal (think about getting a car, "chiavi in mano").
    – Denis Nardin
    Nov 5, 2019 at 21:10
  • @DenisNardin and Renato: Yes, sorry, I didn't mean that in mano in itself is not a perfectly normal Italian phrase. It's just that it doesn't occur to me what could be taken in mano in a cancelleria, without imagining contrived scenarios.
    – DaG
    Nov 5, 2019 at 21:21
  • I interpret the funny sentence in the sense that somebody is discussing about a business and is telling someone else that the business has to be examined (prendere in mano) in the chancellery. In this case I'd only say “in cancelleria”, unless some specification follows: “in cancelleria” (absolute, we know what chancellery) or “nella cancelleria del tribunale di Vattelapesca”.
    – egreg
    Nov 6, 2019 at 8:35
  • What does "cancelleria" means exactly in this context? I suppose it is the office of the "cancelliere", but what does it mean here? "Prime minister", as in chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany) ? Treccani gives a very broad definition of "cancelliere" (treccani.it/vocabolario/cancelliere ), so I am not sure. Nov 11, 2019 at 14:38

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