When to use the preposition DA in Italian

When do you use the preposition da in Italian? Are there any tricks you can learn to avoid mistakes?

Da domani
Starting tomorrow

Da Firenze
From Florence

Da tre minuti
Since three minutes ago

grey tube clock showing 7:36 pm

Learn everything you need to know about this preposition and its variants here!


Preposition da in Italian

How to use the preposition da in Italian

Let me start with a general explanation of how prepositions work in this language.

Every preposition in Italian can either be semplice, simple, or articolata, “with article”.

Italian simple prepositions are what you probably already know as prepositions: DI, A, DA, IN, CON, SU, PER, TRA, FRA.

Vengo da Venezia.
I come from Venice.

When needed, any of these prepositions can be followed by an indefinite article, which will be placed in front of them as a word of its own.

Sono stato morso da un cane.
I was bitten by a dog.

boy being bitten on his back by a dog

When used in a sentence, however, DI, A, DA, IN and SU cannot be directly followed by a definite article. The definite article will fuse with these prepositions to create what is called a preposizione articolata, “preposition with article”.

Il ladro entra dalla finestra.
The thief enters through the window.
(DA + la)

Ci sono tre metri dal divano al televisore.
There are three meters from the sofa to the TV set.
(DA + il)

You cannot say:

Il ladro entra da la finestra.
Ci sono tre metri da il divano a il televisore.

Remember: if you need to use a definite article in front of DI, A, DA, IN and SU, you will need to fuse the article with the preposition itself.

PER, TRA and FRA are never fused with a definite article, so they only exist in their simple form.

Spegni il fuoco tra dieci minuti.
Turn off the heat in 10 minutes.

Questo regalo è per te.
This gift is for you.

couple exchanging gifts

CON can only fuse with the masculine singular article il, forming the preposition COL. Any other variant is not allowed.

That said, how many variants are there of the preposition da in Italian? Take a look at the following table.

Preposition da in Italian

DAdaldallodalladaidaglidalle
+illolaiglile

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Since there’s a preposizione articolata for each definite article, there are a total of 7 variants of the preposition da in Italian.

For example, you could say…

L’ufficio rimarrà chiuso dalle 8 alle 12.
The office will be closed from 8 a.m. to noon.

Vengo dagli Stati Uniti.
I come from the United States.

president of the USA making a speech

Don’t worry. It all sounds so tiresome, but I assure you it’s not!

Now that we’ve seen how to use the preposition da in Italian, let’s see when you can use it.


When to use the preposition da in Italian

As you probably already know, the Italian preposition da roughly translates to the English preposition from. However, there are many cases where this rule does not apply.

At first glance, it might be hard to understand when and how to use this preposition. As you will see in a moment, however, there are quite a few rules that specify exactly when you have to use da in your sentence. You have to use DA and its variants with an article…

  • to specify a starting point or source
  • to translate since and for
  • to translate the agent in the passive voice
  • to describe the function of something
  • to specify a place you walk/drive/pass through
  • to specify the reason for an emotion you’re feeling
  • to introduce someone you are paying a visit to
  • to introduce someone’s age with specific adjectives
  • to describe people
  • to compare things
confused boy

Che confusione! That can be… quite overwhelming, so let me make a few real-life examples for each of the given situations.


Preposition da in Italian for every situation

To specify a starting point or source, especially with the verb venire

Siamo partiti da casa alle 8. Saremo lì verso mezzogiorno.
We left home at 8 a.m. We will be there around noon.

Vengo da un paesino in provincia di Pescara.
I come from a small town in the province of Pescara.

Da dove viene questo rumore?
Where is this noise coming from?

unhappy man surrounded by noisy people and listening to music

To translate since and for

Lavoro in questo ufficio dal 2009.
I’ve been working in this office since 2009.

È da un’ora che ti aspetto!
I’ve been waiting for you for an hour!

Piove da quasi due giorni.
It has been raining for almost two days.

To translate the agent in the passive voice (“by”)…

Paolo è stato punto da una medusa ed è andato in ospedale.
Paul was stung by a jellyfish and went to the hospital.

Giorgio viene fermato dalla polizia.
Giorgio is stopped by the police.

policeman on a white bike

To describe the function of something…

Ci sono due martelli sul tavolo da lavoro.
There are two hammers on the work table.

Hai visto i miei occhiali da lettura?
Have you seen my reading glasses?

Mio zio ha un cavallo da tiro.
My uncle owns a draft horse.

To specify a place you walk/drive/pass through

Se passi dal centro del paese, fai attenzione ai vigili.
If you pass through the town center, beware the vigilantes.

L’aria entra dalla finestra.
Air enters through the window.

woman near an opened window

To specify the reason for an emotion you’re feeling…

Vincenzo si mise a urlare dalla rabbia.
Vincenzo started screaming in anger.

Adele saltellò sul posto dalla felicità.
Adele jumped on the spot from happiness.

To introduce someone you are paying a visit to

Verrò da te verso le tre, sei a casa per quell’ora?
I’ll come to you around 3 o’clock, will you be you home by then?

Dovrei andare dal parrucchiere a farmi tagliare i capelli.
I should go to the hairdresser and get a haircut.

Dormo spesso dalla nonna.
I often sleep at grandma’s.

boy sleeping with his cat

To introduce someone’s age with specific adjectives

Stefano, che cosa vuoi fare da grande?
Stephen, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Da bambino mi piaceva spesso andare a pescare con papà.
As a child, I often liked to go fishing with Dad.

To describe people

Valerio è un bel ragazzo dagli occhi verdi.
Valerio is a handsome boy with green eyes.

L’assassino è un uomo dai capelli rossi.
The killer is a red-haired man.

To compare things

Il testo che hai scritto è completamente diverso da quello che ti ho dettato!
The text you wrote is completely different from what I dictated to you!

These are the main rules that you need to follow for using the preposition da in Italian correctly. And if you still aren’t sure if you can use it in a sentence, remember that the other Italian prepositions have their own rules. You can go by exclusion, andare per esclusione!

And that’s it with the preposition da in Italian! If you still have any doubts, feel free to leave a comment.


What next?

Now that you’ve seen how and when to use the preposition da in Italian, you might want to keep learning Italian online with these free Italian resources:

Or you might also want an excellent offline Italian grammar resource to take with you at all times (Amazon).

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