One of the challenges you may face in learning Italian is choosing between the prepositions DI and DA. Both prepositions can be translated to the English preposition “of,” but they have different uses and meanings in Italian. Here are some guidelines to help you choose between DI and DA.
Prepositions are words placed before (pre-posed) words or phrases to show how they are related. They usually come before:
- a noun
- an adjective
- a verb
Each preposition can play different functions. Different prepositions have similar uses.
In other cases, it is the verb, noun, or adjective that determines the preposition to be used.
The basic function of a preposition is to introduce some additional information to a verb or a noun, in the form of a complement.
But how to choose from Di or Da preposition?
The basic meaning of DA is the direction from some point in space or in time.
Da is also used for other phrases: it can even indicate movement somewhere.
Di is the most frequently used of all Italian prepositions.
Although it is often translated by the English ‘of’, it has many different functions.
DI indicates the place of origin of persons/things with the verb ESSERE
STRUCTURE ➤ VERB ESSERE + DI + CITY/TOWN
- Sono di Roma
- Maria è di Palermo
DA indicates the place of origin of persons/things with the verb VENIRE
STRUCTURE ➤ VERB VENIRE + DA + COUNTRY / CITY/TOWN
- Vengo da Roma
- Vengo dall’Italia
DI indicates possess/time with VERB ESSERE
STRUCTURE ➤ VERB ESSERE + DI + THING/TIME
- Questa casa è di Paolo
- Questi prodotti sono della (DI+LA) ditta Rossi
- Questo vestito è di due anni fa
DA to indicate the time when something happens.
STRUCTURE ➤ DA +INDICATION OF TIME
- dal (da+il) lunedì al venerdì
- dalle (da+le) due alle quattro
DI after “qualcosa/niente”
STRUCTURE ➤ Qualcosa/niente + DI + adjective
- Vorrei bere qualcosa di fresco
- Vorrei fare qualcosa di interessante
DA after “qualcosa/niente“
STRUCTURE ➤ Qualcosa/niente + DA + INFINITIVE VERB
- Vuoi qualcosa da bere?
- Non ho niente da fare
DI after adjectives generally indicates a quantity
STRUCTURE ➤ DI + adjective
- Ho una casa piena di libri
- L’Italia è ricca di opere d’arte
- Questi cibi sono poveri di grassi
DA with the passive verbal form
STRUCTURE ➤ Passive verb + DA
- Queste marmellate sono fatte da mia nonna
- Questa macchina è guidata da mio fratello
- Quel concerto è diretto da Riccardo Muti
MORE ABOUT DI AND DA
It’s worth noting that there are some expressions in Italian that use DI or DA without any particular rule. These expressions are idiomatic and need to be memorized. Here are some examples:
Adverbial Expressions with DA
- dal (da+il) mio punto di vista – from my point of view
- da cima a fondo – from top to bottom
- da capo – from the beginning
- da lontano – from a distance
- da vicino – close up
- da solo – alone
- trasmissione dal (da+il) vivo – live broadcast
Idiomatic Expressions With DI
- Vado via di qua – I’m going away from here
- Dare del (di + il) tu/Lei – use the “tu/Lei” form
- Diamoci del (di+il) tu – Let’s use the “tu” form
- Dire di si/no – to say yes/no
- Di qua/la – over here/there
- Di anno in anno – from year to year
- Di tanto in tanto – every now and again
- Di male in peggio – from bad to worse
Choosing between DI and DA requires some practice and familiarity with the language. However, by following these guidelines and memorizing some common expressions, you can improve your use of Italian prepositions and avoid common mistakes.
Remember that prepositions can change the meaning of a sentence, so it’s important to choose the right one. Practice makes perfect, so keep practising and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
Do this exercise to test your grammar again.
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