Prepositions referring to place

The prepositions in (in, to, at), a (to, at, in), da (from), per (for) and di (of) can be used to indicate a place, direction or origin.

We use in (in, to, at) to indicate a location or direction: 

  • in + article (in some cases) + country/region.

Carlo abita in Lombardia e Mario nel Lazio. (nel = in + il)

Carlo lives in Lombardy and Mario in Lazio.

  • in + article (in some cases) + a familiar place (generally a feminine singular noun)

Chiara va in banca. 

Chiara is going to the bank.

A (to, in, at):

  • a (meaning “to” or “at”) with nouns like casa (home) or scuola (school), or the name of a city, to indicate movement towards or presence in a place.

Anna e Magda sono a casa.

Anna and Magda are at home.

Ruggero e Ciro vanno a Milano. 

Ruggero and Ciro are going to Milan.

  • a (meaning “to” or “at”) + a definite article + a familiar place (generally a masculine singular noun) or institution to indicate movement towards or presence in a place.

Gli spettatori vanno al cinema.

The viewers are going to the movie theater.

Si sono sposati al comune.

They got married at city hall.

Da (from, at someone's place):

  • We use da (+ article) + the name of a person (masculine or feminine) who works in a specific place, used to represent the name of the place itself, to indicate direction towards or presence in that place.

Sono dal medico. (dal = da + il)

I am at the doctor's.

  • We use da (from) + article (in some cases) + city/country or place, to indicate origin.

Magda viene da Firenze. 

Magda comes from Florence.

We use per (for) specifically with the verb partire (to leave), to indicate direction:

Anna parte per Roma. 

Anna is leaving for Rome. 

Di (from): we use essere + di + city to talk about where someone is from:

Anna è di Milano.

Anna is from Milan.

Note: although we normally use a with masculine familiar places, here are some exceptions that use in instead: in hotel (to/in the hotel), in ufficio (to/in the office), in aeroporto (to/in the airport), in centro (to/in the city center), etc.

Sono in ufficio.

I am in the office.

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