How to Express BY in Italian

posted in: Easy Italian Grammar | 0

How to use English preposition BY in Italian.
Some Italian expressions are different from the usual equivalent of English expression.

Learn the differences by reading this article about how to Express BY in Italian.

Expressing place

Usually expressed in Italian with prepositions (or expressions of place) of place vicino a / accanto a, in English we express it with the preposition by.

Maria è seduta vicino a sua madre
Maria is sitting by her mother


Le chiavi sono vicino alla porta (the keys are by the door)

Learn more about expressions of places:

expressing time

Usually expressed in Italian with prepositions of time entro and per.

IL pacco arriverà entro le 10
The package will arrive by 10 am

You can replace the time (10 am) with words indicating the day of the week/month/year.


Arriveremo a New York entro/per lunedì (We will arrive in New York by Monday)

Learn more about prepositions of time:

expressing measure

Usually expressed in Italian with prepositions di a and per

Luigi è più alto di 30 centimetri
Luigi is taller by 30 centimetres

You can use different kind of measures.


Nel mio lavoro sono pagato a ore (In my job, I’m paid by the hour)

Il negozio vende l’olio al litro (The shop sells the oil by the liter)

Tre per due fa sei (Three by two is six)

expressing means

Usually expressed in Italian with prepositions in, con or per.

Viaggio in treno per andare a Milano
I travel by train to go to Milan

You can replace “treno” with any other means (transport or other means (things/tools).


Vado a scuola in bicicletta (I go to school by bike)

Vado in ufficio con l’autobus (I go to the office by bus)

Devo contattare l’ufficio informazioni per telefono (I need to contact the information office by phone)

expressing cause/agent

Usually expressed in Italian with prepositions di, da or per.

Ho incontrato Carlo per caso
I met Carlo by chance

Example: – (cause)

Mi dispiace, ho aperto la tua lettera per errore (I’m sorry, I opened your mail by mistake)

Example: (agent)

Al teatro ho visto un’opera di Verdi (At the theater I saw an opera by Verdi)

Using BY before an author or creator (agent) in sentences with passive construction:


L’albero è stato tagliato da Paolo (The tree was cut by Paolo)

La Divina Commedia è stata scritta da Dante Alighieri (The Divina Commedia was written by Dante Alighieri)

Other expressions

fatto a mano

by hand

da solo

by myself

per via aerea

by air mail


by all means

neanche per sogno

by no means


by now

uno alla volta

one by one

fianco a fianco

side by side

imparare a memoria

learn by heart

suonare (la musica) a orecchio

playing (music) by ear

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