The Italian Preposition “Da”
Most of the time, the Italian preposition “da” means “from,” but it can also mean “since/for,” “to,” “at,” and other things. Yes, it sounds difficult because prepositions in English and Italian do not have a binary correspondence. That is why, in my classes, I always tell my private students to learn the prepositions in context, that is, in phrases or expressions.
Da is generally used to express the following:
Origin: I’m from
- Da dove vieni? – Where are you coming from?
- Vengo dagli Stati Uniti – I come from the United States
- I miei cugini vengono dalla Francia – My cousins are coming from France
- Il treno è arrivato da Roma – The train arrived from Rome
As you can see, when the preposition “da” means from, frequently appears with the verb “venire” which means “to come”.
- Venire da = to come from
Venire da is used with cities or countries, and it’s not to be confused with “essere di”, which means the same, but it’s used only with cities.
- vengo da Roma (city), vengo dall’Italia (country)
- sono di Roma (city)
Time: how long? Since / For
Da is used with the meaning of for or since to indicate an action that started in the past and is continuing in the present. For example:
- Studio italiano dal 2019 – I’ve learned Italian since 2019
- Vivo a Roma da 5 mesi – I’ve been living in Rome for 5 months
- Da quanto tempo conosci Marco? – How long have you known Marco?
As you can see from the foregoing phrases, the way to say “how long..?” in Italian, is with “da quanto tempo + present tense” and not with a past tense, like in English.
- Da quanto tempo sei sposato? – How long have you been married?
- Da quanto tempo studi italiano? – How long have you been studying Italian?
Time: through, from…to
Da is also used with the preposition “a”, with the meaning of “from..to” or “through”
- da martedì a venerdì – Tuesday through Friday
- da gennaio a febbraio – January through February
- dalle 10 alle 11 – 10 am through 11 am
Place (to go to someone’s place)
Going to a place, as you may know, is translated with andare in or a. However, there’s a third way to say “go to” and it’s when you are going to someone (a person) or at the place of someone. In this case, “to” is transited with the preposition “da.”
- vado dal dentista – I’m going to the dentist.
- vado dai miei amici – I’m going to my friends
- sono andato dai miei genitori – I went visiting my parents
- vado da Angela – I m visiting Angela (I’m going to Angela’s place)
Da is used in a number of different compound words. In this case, da indicates the purpose of the object.
All it takes is simply memorizing the fixed expression.
- una camera da letto – a bedroom
- una sala da pranzo – a living room
- occhiali da sole – shades
- vasca da bagno – bath tub
- scarpe da tennis – basket shoes
Sometimes, da appears in expressions to indicate the value of something, and it means “worth”.
- un gelato da 3 euro – a 3 euro gelato
- una villa da un milione di euro – a one million euro villa
- un bottiglia di vino da 100 dollari – a 100 dollar bottle of wwine
In the passive forms, da is the translation of the agent “by” in English, which means the person by whom the action was carried out.
- L’edificio è stato disegnato da Renzo Piano – The building was designed by Renzo Piano
- Il progetto è stato finanziato dallo Stato – The project was funded by the state
Da + infinitive
DA often appears after the Italian adverbs molto (a lot), poco (little), niente (nothing), qualcosa (something) when they are followed by an infinitive verb.
- Vuoi qualcosa da bere? – Would you like to have something to drink?
- Non ho niente da fare oggi – I have nothing planned for today
- Hai qualcosa da dirmi? – Do you have something to tell me?
Verbs with “da”
There are also a number of verbs which use the preposition da.
- dipendere da – to depends on
- venire da – to come from
- partire da – to leave from
- proteggersi da – to protect against
- pretendere da – to expect from
- nascondersi da – to hide from
The articuritated prepositions are: dal, dall‘, dallo, dalla, dai, dagli, dalle
- da + il = dal
- da + l’ = dall’
- da + la = dalla
- da + lo = dallo
- da + i = dai
- da + gli = dagli
- da + le = dalle
This is why we say
- Vado dal dentista – vado (da + il) dentista
- Studio italiano dal 2017 – studio italiano (da + il) 2017
- Ho lezione dalle 14 alle 15 – ho lezione (da+le) 14 (a+le) 15