The prepositions in and a

The prepositions in (in, to, at) and a (in, to) are used to indicate both location and direction.

Siamo in centro.

We are in the center.

Vado al mare.

I'm going to the coast.

The preposition in is used:

  • Before months, years, seasons and centuries.

Avrò le ferie in autunno.

I will take my leave in the fall.

  • Before the names of countries, regions and certain other places.

Ci trasferiremo in Francia.

We are moving to France.

  • To indicate location inside/within something (a place, a book, etc.)

L’ho letto nella Contrazione in ricetta.

I read it in the recipe.

  • With means of transport.

Andiamo in aereo. 

We are going by airplane.

The preposition a is used in the following circumstances:

  • Before times, months and public holidays (Natale/Christmas, Pasqua/Easter, etc.)

Partiranno per il viaggio alle Contrazione a 6 di mattina.

They will leave on vacation at 6 in the morning.

  • Before the names of cities and certain outdoor locations (al mare/at the coast, al parco/in the park, etc.)

Abito a Milano da tre anni.

I've lived in Milan for three years.

  • To indicate age.

A diciannove anni ho superato l’esame di maturità.

At nineteen years of age I passed the final high school exam.

  • In the expression (andare) a piedi (to go on foot)

Ho fatto 5 chilometri a piedi. 

I did 5 kilometers on foot.

Both the prepositions in and a are used:

  • Before masculine nouns indicating a place (though a is more common).

Vado al ristorante. 

I'm going to the restaurant.

  • Before feminine nouns indicating a place (though in is more common).

Il direttore entra in azienda. 

The manager comes into the office.

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