Prepositions are the glue that holds sentences together, providing essential context and meaning. Understanding “fra” and “tra” effectively will enhance your language learning.

Today, we’re going to see the two common Italian prepositions: “fra” and “tra.”

These FRA and TRA prepositions are identical in meaning.

What is the difference?

But when do you use one and when do you use the other?
Are there specific rules to follow, or situations to consider?

Actually, it depends on the need to avoid particular syllable combinations that would result in a bad sound.

This is why we prefer to say:

  • fra tre giorni (in three days),
  • fra traditori (among traitors)


  • tra fronde e fiori (among branches and flowers)
  • tra fratelli (among brothers)
Italian prepositions: fra and tra. HOW TO USE THE PREPOSITION FRA-TRA

So, the only reason to prefer one over the other is to avoid unpleasant sound combinations:

Fra tre giorni 

😀 Good sound

Tra tre giorni 

🤨 Bad sound

Tra fratelli 

😀 Good sound

Fra fratelli 

🤨 Bad sound

DISTANCETra or Fra indicate the space you need to get to a place

L’ufficio è tra 300 metri (The office is 300 meters from here)

Italian prepositions: fra and tra. HOW TO USE THE PREPOSITION FRA-TRA

INTERVAL OF TIME – They indicate the beginning of a period of time when an action is taken

Mario arriverà tra le 5 e le 6 (Mario will get there between 5 and 6)

TIMETra or Fra indicate when an action takes place

Esco fra un’ora (I’ll leave in an hour)


MIDDLETra or Fra Indicate something in the

Lo stretto di Messina è tra la Sicilia e la Calabria (The Strait of Messina is between Sicily and Calabria)


More Examples:

  • Ho visto il cane tra/fra le due macchine → I saw the dog between the two cars.
  • Ho trovato l’assegno fra/tra i documenti.→  I found the check among the documents.
  • Arriveremo fra/tra le due e le tre.→ We’ll get there between two and three.
  • Spero di finire il libro fra/tra un mese .→ I hope to finish the book in a month’s time
  • Fra breve / tra poco / tra non molto  → soon
  • Tra/fra due chilometri c’è un benzinaio → there’s a petrol pump in two km
  • Arriverà fra/tra venti minuti → She’ll be here in twenty minutes
  • Una discussione tra/fra amici → a discussion among friends
  • Sei il migliore tra/fra i miei amici → you’re the best of my friends
  • Tra/Fra amici e parenti ci saranno state cento persone → there must have been 100 people including friends and relatives
  • Tra/fra lavoro e la famiglia non ho un momento libero → with work and the family I don’t have a free moment

This preposition appears in a variety of useful expressions 

  • Pensavo fra me/Pensavo fra me e me.   I was thinking to myself. Che
  • Che rimanga fra me e te. Let’s keep it between you and me. fra/tra poco shortly
  • Fra/tra poco  shortly
  • Tra l’altro → moreover, furthermore
  • Detto tra noi → between us
  • Parlava fra sè (e sè) → he was talking to himself
  • Distinguere tra caso e caso → to distinguish between one case and another

Idiomatic expressions

Keep an eye out for idiomatic expressions that use these prepositions.

Tra/Fra Capo e Collo

This expression is used to express the discomfort due to an unexpected situation that requires modifying a program with consequent mix-ups and problems.


Mi è arrivata tra capo e collo” o “mi è capitata tra capo e collo

La notizia era proprio imprevedibile e mi e’ arrivata tra capo e collo.

Detto tra/fra noi

We use this phrase when we want to express a thought to someone confidentially

Between you and me – Confidentially


Detto tra noi quella persona non mi piace (Between you and me I don’t like that person)

Mettere i bastoni tra/fra le ruote

Put a spoke in somebody’s wheel


Gianni vuole mettere i bastoni tra le ruote al nostro grande progetto (Gianni wants to put a spoke in the wheel of our great project)


What’s next?

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What is a Preposition in the Italian Language?

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