The adverbs of place su, sopra, giù and sotto

Su, in alto, sopra (up; on; above) and giù, in basso, sotto (down; under, beneath) are used to indicate position and are invariable (their spelling never changes).

Guarda in alto, c’è la luna piena!

Look up, there's a full moon!

Preferisco abitare giù, al primo piano.

I prefer living downstairs, on the first floor.

To indicate an upward direction or position (↑):

  • Su (up; on) and in alto (up, upward) imply an upward movement.

Potresti portare su la valigia? (= Potresti portare in alto la valigia?)

Could you bring the suitcase up?

  • Sopra and su can mean “on”, “over” or “above”.

Ho lasciato la valigia sopra il letto.

I left the suitcase on the bed.

To indicate a downward direction or position (↓):

  • Giù (down) and in basso (down, downward) imply a downward movement.

Il gatto è saltato giù (= Il gatto è saltato in basso).

The cat jumped down.

  • Sotto means “below” or “under”.

Il gatto è nascosto sotto il tavolo.

The cat is hidden under the table.


  • In alto (above, high up) and in basso (below, down low) can sometimes also be used to indicate position.

Guarda nel mobile in basso (= nella parte bassa del mobile / nel mobile che si trova giù).

Look in the bottom cabinet.

Apri la finestra in alto (= la finestra che si trova in una posizione superiore rispetto a un'altra).

Open the top window.

  • Alto (tall) and basso (short), without the in, are used to indicate the height of someone/something and have to agree in gender and number with the person or thing they refer to.

Toni è alto.

Toni is tall.

Quella statua è bassa.

That statue is short.

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