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  15.3 Italian prepositions part 1

15.3.1 the prepositions a

We have already seen the preposition a quite often and we would know it even without ever having learnt Italian because everybody knows the Spaghetti alla Bolognese. It is the most used preposition in Italian. Sometimes its use it motivated semantically (Vado a Roma <=> I go to Rome) and sometimes, for example when connecting an infinitive (Impara a vivere senza soldi <=> He learnt to live without money) the use is not semantically motivated it's just arbitrary.

a to form the dativ

The dative is marked in Italian by the preposition a, in this use it corresponds to the preposition to in enlish.

I gave the money to the man.
Do dei soldi all' uomo.

Only the personal pronouns have a special form the dative, in English as well as in Italian.

I give him money.
Gli do i soldi.

Regalo dei fiori alla donna.
I give flowers to the woman.
Regalo dei fiori alle donne.
I give flowers to the women.
Regalo dei fiori all' uomo.
I give flowers to the men.
Regalo dei fiori agli uomini.
I give flowers to the men.
Regalo dei fiori agli psicologi.
I give flowers to the psychologists.
Regalo dei fiori alla psicologa.
I give flowers to the psychologist.

a to add an infinitive
We have already seen in the chapter infinite verb forms that an infinitive can be added with different prepositions and in some cases with no preposition at all. We already said that in general the preposition just add an infinitive, without adding an extra meaning. The only exception is da, in this case the infinitive is in passive voice and the meaning is obligation (È un lavoro da fare <=> This is a work to be done). The group of verbs which adds the infinitive with a is relatively small, normally an infinitive is added with di.

Penso di poterlo fare.
I think I can do it.
Ha iniziato a lavorare.
He started to work.
Questo è da impazzire.
It is to get crazy.

Finalmente è riuscito a risolvere il problema.
Finally he succeeded in solving the problem.
Si ostina ad accettarlo.
He refuses to accept that.
Ci ha invitati a venire.
He invited us to come.

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