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Which would be the better way to say "in October"? Here is what I am trying to say in English;
I did not know a word of Italian in October.

1) Non sapevo una parola di italiano nel mese di ottobre.
2) Non sapevo una parola di italiano in ottobre.

Are they both correct? If so, which is better; "nel o in"?

2

I don't think the second one is wrong, but surely it is less used. The first one sounds better and is more usual.

An alternative would be:

Non sapevo una parola di italiano ad ottobre,

(where an euphonic d could be added, but see the comments below).

  • Hmmm.... I'm going to have to look THAT up! ;-) – Msfolly Feb 3 '16 at 21:39
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    Are you sure about the euphonic d, mrnld? The most usual rule of the thumb is to use it only when two equal vowels meet: ed Enrico but e Andrea. – DaG Feb 3 '16 at 21:41
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    @DaG you're right: it is not necessary, but it's more like a personal choice. Also, there are several examples of its use. – mrnld Feb 3 '16 at 21:47
4

In Italian, time determinations are often at the beginning of a sentence.

Hence, in my opinion, by far the most natural way of expressing your idea would be:

A ottobre non sapevo una parola di italiano.

1

The second one is wrong. I mean can, and is used, but is not correct.

  • Non sapevo niente ad Ottobre.
  • In/Ad Ottobre cadono le foglie.

In refers to something that is happening or it used to happen within that time period.

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