I'm completely lost on the use of prepositions with the present infinitive and also cui/quale (they could be used the same way; I'm not sure).

I just want to point out I know how to use these grammar points themselves, but I don't get which prepositions to place with them.

For example with questions that have to be changed to this form:

Sono in molti che hanno imparato l'italiano in questo corso.
Sono in molti _____ l'italiano in questo corso.
Here I know it's aver imparato, but I don't know how to work out the preposition!

I have a list of infinitives with prepositions in my work book, and it says imparare + a. So it should make sense that it is ad aver imparato.

But then I try to follow that logic with another verb.
The list says dimenticare + di.
So I figure that:
Ieri è stato un giorno che si dovrebbe dimenticare
= Ieri è stato un giorno di dimenticare. But the answer sheet says it's DA dimenticare.

How do you work this out?

  • This is not a proper answer, just an hint that might help you, so I comment: try to ask yourself what you want to do. For Example: "Ieri è stato un giorno..." +HOW+? DA DIMENTICARE.
    – IssamTP
    Jan 27, 2015 at 7:55
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    in this exercise forget your preposition list: the prepositions you are looking are correct for the object of the verb, but the examples you are doing are for subjects. In molti hanno dimenticato di fare la spesa -> Sono in molti ad aver dimenticato di fare la spesa (that's how you use dimenticare+di, it's not about the infinitive) Actually I don't know the formal rule so I may forget some cases, but it's more on the line of ACTIVE-> a + infinitive; PASSIVE-> da + inifinitive
    – laika
    Jan 27, 2015 at 8:35

1 Answer 1


The bad news about the meaning and use of the different Italian prepositions is that they have actually to be learnt one by one, just like any other word, taking into account that each may have more than one use.

For instance, your da in “è stato un giorno da dimenticare” pertains to one of the uses of da, to describe purposes (“proposizioni finali”): “a day to be forgotten”. Other examples of this use of da include: “una persona da ammirare” (= “to be admired”), “c'è molto da fare” and so on.

But da itself has many other meanings, from its basic one, “from”, to denote a starting point (“questo treno va da Roma a Milano”), a second basic one more or less corresponding to “by” (“un romanzo scritto da Umberto Eco”) to figurative meanings of the above, and other ones as well. Prepositions have to be learned individually, as well as their use with single verbs: sperare is used with di (“spero di vincere”), while volere requires no preposition (“voglio vincere”).

So, there is no better way than having ready a good, possibly one-language dictionary or grammar book with lots of examples, study them, but above all reading with attention good Italian texts, noticing how words are used (perhaps underlining them or taking notes or whatever works for you).

The good news is that the Italian fundamental (“semplici”) preposizioni are very few, and the actually tricky ones even less: I'd say di, a, and da, in particular.

Finally, patterns as «dimenticare + di» given in your book are not to be interpreted as you do: they do not mean you have to write something like *«un giorno di dimenticare», which is not Italian. As a commenter remarks, it is correct to say “dimenticare di fare qualcosa.” Analogously, “imparare + a” must refer to the fact that the usual construction is “imparare a fare qualcosa.” So they explain how to use that verb, i.e. which preposition is to be used after them.

  • actually his book is correct ("but the answer sheet says it's DA dimenticare")
    – laika
    Jan 27, 2015 at 8:39
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    Her book haha, but thank you everyone, I guess I was thinkibg tge list I mentioned had to do with because it was right after the explanation of the infinitives. I am aware that prepositions have multiple uses, I guess my biggest hang up is remembering them all. I will continue reading Italian texts, and take more consideration with the meaning behind each preposition.
    – Haylz
    Jan 28, 2015 at 8:22

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