How to choose from A or IN prepositions

Prepositions are sentence elements that describe links between different parts of a phrase, such as time, place, or reason: prepositions show how people and things relate to the rest of the sentence. Learn how to choose from A or IN prepositions to improve your Italian and avoid mistakes.

preposition is one word that is usually followed by a noun or a pronoun.

Each preposition can play different functions. Different prepositions have similar uses.

But how to choose from IN or A preposition?

Read the explanation to help you and test what you know with interactive exercises.

First, try this exercise to test your grammar.

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation


  • With continents, countries, regions
  • With addresses
  • With big islands

The main meaning of the preposition IN is similar to that of the English word ‘in,’ however, it indicates both position in time and space as well as movement into somewhere.

  • In Europa
  • In Italia
  • In Toscana
  • In Sicilia  
  • In via della Pace

Quest’estate vado in vacanza in Italia

 Use IN because Italia it’s a country

Mia sorella vive in Australia

 Use IN because Australia it’s a continent


  • With cities and towns  
  • With little islands

The relationship expressed by the preposition A is that of direction towards someone, somewhere, or at some point in time.
This preposition, however, has many and varied meanings outside of its basic meaning of ‘to, at’ in English.

  • A Roma
  • New York
  • A Sanremo
  • Taiwan

Quest’estate vado in vacanza a New York

 Use A because New York is a city

Mia sorella vive a Sanremo

 Use A because Sanremo it’s a town

There are many cases where it is not possible to give a precise rule.

Here are some tips to help you memorise the use of these propositions.

Memorising the use of these propositions


Means of transport:

  • in macchina
  • in treno
  • in aereo
  • in metro
  • in autobus
  • in tram
  • in moto
  • in bicicletta
  • in barca
  • in nave
  • in taxi

With nouns of commercial activity ending in -IA

  • in pizzeria
  • in farmacia
  • in trattoria
  • in frutteria
  • in tabaccheria
  • in macelleria


Means of transport:

  • a piedi
  • a cavallo

Abbiamo fatto tutto il viaggio in treno. Use IN because the mean of transport is treno

Domenica ho fatto un bellissimo giro in bicicletta. Use IN because the mean of transport is bicicletta

Andiamo al cinema a piedi Use A because the “mean of transport” is piedi

It may help to know that most of the nouns using the preposition IN are female, and most of the nouns using the A are male.


 With female nouns of places

  • in casa
  • in banca
  • in piazza
  • in strada
  • in vacanza
  • in montagna
  • in campagna
  • in collina
  • in discoteca
  • in biblioteca

With some male nouns of places

  • in ufficio
  • in centro
  • in ospedale
  • in giardino


With male nouns of places

  • al ristorante
  • al cinema
  • al bar
  • a teatro
  • al mare
  • al lago
  • al fiume
  • all’aeroporto

With some female nouns of places

  • a casa
  • a scuola


Very often preposition in the question is the same as the answer

Q: A che ora arriva Paolo?
A: A mezzogiorno

Q: In che stanza mettiamo il mobile?
A: In soggiorno

casa How to choose from A or IN prepositions


We generally use “a casa” in a generic sense, as well as in an affective meaning and as a synonym for the motherland, nation of origin.
When we need to identify the interior space of a house, we use “in casa” (indoors).



We say “A PIEDI” when we want to mean walking, using only his own body, without means of transport.

piedi How to choose from A or IN prepositions

Prendiamo l’autobus o andiamo a piedi? Shall we take the bus or go walking?

We say “IN PIEDI” with the meaning of standing, upright on the body (not sitting, not lying down or lying down)

L’autobus era pieno di gente e sono dovuto rimanere in piedi. (The bus was full of people and I had to remain standing.)

practice How to choose from A or IN prepositions

QUIZ: Scegli la preposizione IN o A

Abito ___ Milano

Sono ____ Italia da un mese.

Vivo ______ Africa perché mi piace il caldo

La mia migliore amica vive ___ Milano.

Ho comprato dei souvenir ___ Roma.

Non sono mai andato ____ Asia

____ Spagna vivono 40 milioni di persone.

Voliamo _____ Praga domani.

Passeranno il Natale _____ India

Da quanto tempo stai _____ Firenze?

QUIZ: Choose the Preposition IN or A


Example: Vado in biblioteca

Vado ...


___ banca

___ treno

___ palestra

___ montagna

___ centro

___ Londra

____ scuola

___ teatro

___ piedi

___ aereo

QUIZ: Read, Complete and reorder



Given words:

| è - Ilde - di  - vive - a |


Ilde è di Stoccolma ma adesso vive a Oslo



Carla - vive - di - Madrid - a

Carla è    ma adesso    Barcellona


a - Hans - di

è Berlino ma adesso è Monaco

vivono - di - in - sono

Lisa e John Los Angeles ma adesso Canada

di - Tu - siete - a - Tokyo - vivete

e Yoko Tokyo ma adesso Osaka

Io - in - viviamo - siamo

e Fabio italiani ma adesso Irlanda

newsletter How to choose from A or IN prepositions

What’s next?

You might want to keep learning Italian online with these free resources:

What's next?

Let’s Connect!

Join and visit our Facebook Group for Italian Learners


Leave a Reply