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  15.3.9 prepositions davanti a

Davanti corresponds to the English prepositions in front of.

Non si può parcheggiare davanti a nessuna uscita carrabile, a meno che non se ne sia il proprietario.
It is forbidden to park in front of any trafficable gate unless one is the owner.

In English and in most languages exists a difference between two situation.

The chair is in front of the table.
He sits at the table.

It is quite obvious that the person who sits at the table sits as well in front of the table, but the stress is not on the description of a spatial relationship and so the preposition at is used instead of in front of. This difference is not made so clearly in Italian.

Io sono seduta davanti a una scrivania che abbiamo comprato a un mercato che si fa ogni ultima domenica del mese vicino a casa nostra.
I am sitting at the table we have bought on a market which does take place every last sunday of the month near the house we live.

But if the stress is exclusively on an action and the relationship in space is completely irrelevant another preposition is used in Italian as well.

Mi ha invitata a cena da lui, ci siamo seduti a tavola, il mio piatto pendeva un pò, ho guardato sotto e ci ho trovato una busta.
He invited me to dinner, we sat at the table, my dish was a little bit inclined, I looked beneath and I saw an envelope.

In this case the relationship in space is completely irrelevant they can as well eat on the floor. In this sentence we sat at the table just means that they took dinner.

But if the stress is really on the description of the relationship in space davanti a is used.

Davanti alla scrivania c' era una poltrona.
In front of the desk there was a chair.

The second problem is that in Italian there is no distinction between a movement and a state.

He passed by the door.
He stand in front of the door.

In English we use different prepositions for the movement and for the state. That's not the case in Italian. Even in the case of a movement davanti a is used.

example: Description of a static situation (english at)
L'uomo si siede davanti alla scrivania, accende il suo computer e, con un leggero tocco di mouse, entra nella libreria della più grande Università americana.
The man sat at on the writing desk, switched on the computer and with a light touch with the mouse he entered the biggest American library.
È cosa appurata e scontata: rimanere seduti davanti alla scrivania tutto il giorno non giova alla salute.
It is prooved and obvious: To remain the whole day at the writing desk is not conducive to health.  


example: Description of a mouvement (english by)
Passò davanti alla porta di un ascensore, ma preferì salire le scale a piedi.
He passed by the door of the elevator but prefered to walk up the stairs.
Quando passò davanti alla porta, non si fermò. La porta era aperta e le persone che erano dentro la videro.
When she passed by the door, she didn' t stop. The door was open and all the persons inside could see her.  

There is no distinction in Italian between He stands in front of the door / Sta davanti alla porta and He passes by the door / Passa davanti alla porta.

If you speak Spanish or French you may believe that pass by a door is to be translated with passare per una porta but that' s not the case. Passare per una porta in Italian means to go through a door. The distinction between pass by a door and pass through a door is not made in Spanisch and French.

Spanish: Pasó por la puerta.
=> He passed through a door.
=> He passed by a door.
French: Il est passé par la porte.
=> He passed through a door.
=> He passed by a door.

In Italian there is a difference.

Passò davanti alla porta.
=> He passed by the door.
Passò per la porta.
=> He passed through the door.

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