I'm an Italian who is learning English. Sometimes I do comparisons between the two languages, because it helps me understanding better the language.

I can't find this information anywhere so I hope someones here can help me.

My references for this discussion are: Advanced Italian grammar and Advanced grammar for learners (Italian grammar the former, English grammar the latter).

In Italian we have 8 basic prepositions, which can be combined with articles to obtain new ones. In English, as far as I understand, we have many more prepositions. It seems to me that although the of such concepts are the same ("Prepositions" vs "Preposizioni") the actual concept is actually different. Is this insight correct? Could anyway please explain me in very few words what the differences are between the two of them?

Thank you.

  • A big difference is that English prepositions can be postponed to a verb and form a phrasal verb; also the preposition introducing a relative clause can be placed at the end of the clause. Such uses don't exist in Italian.
    – egreg
    Jul 13, 2017 at 10:50

1 Answer 1


The concepts of a preposition in Italian and in English are the same. Just consider two standard dictionary definitions: for English:

a word governing, and usually preceding, a noun or pronoun and expressing a relation to another word or element in the clause, as in ‘the man on the platform’, ‘she arrived after dinner’, ‘what did you do it for?’ (Oxford Dictionary of English)

and for Italian:

Parte invariabile del discorso che serve a precisare la funzione sintattica di un nome, pronome o espressione nominale, cui generalmente è premessa. (Treccani)

Your doubt probably stems from a confusion (and if this is the case, you're in the company of many Italians) between the general concept of a preposition in Italian and the list of 8 or 9 “simple” or “proper” prepositions often listed by grammars: di, a, da, in, con, su, per, tra/fra.

These are by far not the only prepositions in Italian. There are many more, the so-called “improper prepositions” such as dopo, sopra, senza, dietro and so on, the main difference being that the latter may also be used as adverbs (consider the difference: dopo la laurea andrò in Inghilterra, where dopo is a preposition; and andate avanti; noi verremo dopo, where it is used as an adverb).

See more here.

  • Are the concepts therefore the same? Jul 12, 2017 at 13:52
  • Yes, indeed, @user8469759. Let me add a couple of sentences to the answer.
    – DaG
    Jul 12, 2017 at 14:00
  • I need another question then... xD, cheers. Jul 12, 2017 at 17:38

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