Ex: "ho deciso di portare una bottiglia di vino."
"Vado a prendere la macchina."
"Voglio __ chiedere il suo nome."

So, are there any tricks or reasons behind different choice of preposition? Or I just have to memorize them?

  • 2
    There are many rules about prepositions, but in case of a combination of two verbs (of which the second one is in the infinitive form), it's usually about the first verb requiring a certain preposition after itself.
    – I.M.
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 6:08

2 Answers 2


I'm afraid you have to memorize them.

Here is a list (quite complete, I hope) of the possible cases; as you can see there is not a simple rule or trick or reason. Moreover, the verb sapere has different rules depending on the meaning.


so di avere sbagliato

sai ballare

The following verbs require the preposition di:

accettare, cercare, credere, decidere, dimenticare, dire, domandare, evitare, finire, impedire, meravigliarsi, pensare, permettere, pregare, preoccuparsi, proibire, promettere, rendersi conto, ricordarsi, rifiutare, ringraziare, rischiare, sapere (in the sense of knowledge), scegliere, smettere, sognare, sperare, tentare, valere la pena.

The following verbs require the preposition a:

abituarsi, aiutare, andare, continuare, divertirsi, esitare, forzare, imparare, impegnarsi, incominciare, incoraggiare, insegnare, invitare, mandare, mettersi, persuadere, prepararsi, provare, rinunciare, riuscire, servire, stare, uscire.

The following verbs require no preposition:

the verbi servili potere, dovere, volere; and:

amare, ascoltare, desiderare, fare, guardare, lasciare, osare, preferire, sapere (in the sense of being able), sembrare, sentire, vedere.

  • 2
    I am not sure about the usefulness of including such “verbs” as avere bisogno, avere l'impressione, avere paura and so on. There is an indeterminate number of them (avere voglia, avere sentore, avere fame, avere una mezza idea...) and many more can be easily created. In all cases, it is the noun (bisogno, paura etc.) the word requiring a particular preposition: in fact, you can say “Il bisogno di lavorare mi spinge...” or “La paura di cadere...”.
    – DaG
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 9:58
  • @DaG You are perfecly right, I'll edit my answer accordingly. Thanks for your editings and your advices!
    – CasaMich
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 12:34

Prepositions in front of an infinitive are not related to the infinitive verb itself, but they are needed to specify the type of information conveyed by that non-main (i.e., not the verb nor the subject) part of the phrase.

In your examples:

  • "ho deciso di portare" -> is split as "ho deciso" (I decided) and the verb "decidere" needs a part-of-the-phrase with the preposition "di" to convey the information of what was decided, if it was an action.
  • "vado a prendere" -> verbs of motion typically require the preposition "a" in parts-of-the-phrase that tell where somebody moved (if the location does not contain. In that case, the preposition would be "in"). You can find it also with non-verb destinations: "vado a casa", "vado al mare".
  • "voglio chiedere" -> as is typical in many languages, direct objects do not need a preposition. What do you want? I want to ask (voglio chiedere). In this situation, "chiedere" (to ask) is direct object, so it does not need a preposition.

Edit: TL;DR answer is yes, you have to memorize them, but they don't come from the verb you are putting in the infinitive mode, but from the ones that are used for the part-of-phrase you are putting the infinitive verb into.

Edit #2: Adding a link that may be useful to the OP (http://www.zanichellibenvenuti.it/wordpress/?p=4401) it contains a list of main verbs and the required preposition for the infinitive verb associated. There are 4 main groups: verbs not requiring prepositions before an infinitive, verbs requiring "A" (and a "figurative static place" as part-of-phrase, which is why in some verbal situation the preposition may be replaced with "NEL"), verbs requiring "DI" (and a "specification" part-of-phrase), and verbs supporting both "DI" and "PER".

  • 1
    I don't follow your reasoning. It is difficult to find the reason why I say "evito di parlare" and "esito a parlare", using dfferent prepositions in very similar contexts.
    – CasaMich
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 12:48
  • I see your point, still your example shows very different contexts: "evito di parlare" -> parlare is the direct object of "evito"; while "esito a parlare" -> parlare is not the direct object, because "esitare" is an intransitive verb, hence a different part-of-phrase. I wanted to highlight that the preposition to choose is one of the many available for the part-of-phrase to announce, not for the verb to put in that part-of-phrase (should there be one). Edited the answer to better explain that; thank you. Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 14:26
  • 1
    You are right, the verb "esito" is intransitive; I'll give you another example, "imparo a parlare". Here we have a transitive verb and the preposition "a", even if parlare is the direct object of imparo. This is only to show that it is quite difficult to give a general rule.
    – CasaMich
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 14:39
  • Yes, a general rule is hard. I found this link, which disproves me in part but may be useful to the OP. The preposition still does not depend on the verb in the infinitive form, but depends on both the part-of-phrase and the main verb in use: zanichellibenvenuti.it/wordpress/?p=4401. A thing I noticed is that main verbs requiring "a" before the infinitive can be thought as if denoting a place, albeit figurative, so that the preposition can be almost always replaced by "nel" -> non continuo nel parlare / non continuo a parlare. Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 12:14
  • CasaMich. I would like to add that "Imparo a parlare" is the equivalent to "I learn to speak", and "sto imparando l'italiano" is the same as "I'm learning Italian". At least in these two cases, our language doesn't seem to be so special or so difficult.
    – alsa
    Commented Oct 10, 2015 at 15:59

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