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In English, the prepositions "opposite" and "in front of" have a subtle difference:

  • opposite: in a position facing someone or something but with something between both (eg street, river, table)
  • in front of: close to the front of something or someone

I have learned that "di fronte a" is a translation of "opposite" and I thought back then that the Italian word had the exact same meaning. However, I have recently read at a Quora answer that "di fronte a" is in fact used when I'm in front of something and facing it, while "davanti a" is used when I'm in front of something, but not necessarily facing it. Supposedly there is no need of having something between both people/objects in "di fronte a", unlike in "opposite" in English. Is that correct? I have looked for a precise definition of "di fronte a" in the Treccani dictionary, but I have not found it.

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    Is this different from italian.stackexchange.com/q/10898/70 ? – egreg Jun 1 at 13:12
  • @egreg My question there was if "di fronte a" could be used as a translation of "in front of", the question here is about the precise meaning of "di fronte a". I suppose both questions could be answered with precise and detailed definitions of "di fronte a" and "davanti" (instead of English translations). – Alan Evangelista Jun 1 at 13:17
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    You can find the definition of "di fronte" at number 2.h of Treccani dictionary. – Charo Jun 1 at 13:42
  • @Charo Thanks for the link, but Treccani defines "di fronte a" as "di faccia, di contro, davanti" and I think that "davanti" and "di fronte a" are not synonyms? I'm confused. I'd really appreciate if someone could confirm if what I have read in the Quora answer linked above is true. – Alan Evangelista Jun 1 at 16:33
  • Does this answer your question? "Di fronte a" means "opposite" and "in front of"? – DaG Jun 1 at 17:07
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What you read from Quora is right, "di fronte a" is used when you are facing something, "davanti a" is used when you are in front of something, but you are not necessarily facing it.

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