Translated by Alanna Quintyne

Are you still struggling with prepositions? New tips are ready for you!

In today’s article called “Prepositions with Time Days Months and Years,” I am talking about prepositions of time, focusing on how to use them with times, days, months, and years. In the end, I will give just a short explanation about centuries.

If you are curious, don’t miss out on this new article!

Are you guys ready to get back into these prepositions? I’d like to start talking about them again, beginning from where we left off last time, that is, from prepositions of time.

In the above mentioned article, we highlighted the prepositions of time, which are: a, per, in and tra. We also focused in particular on actions that express duration and on actions that will take place in the future.

It goes without saying that if these concepts are clear to you, you can proceed with reading and listening to the new article. If, however, you missed itt or want to get a refresher on them, go back to that previous article so that everything makes sense and then you will be able to move on without having any trouble understanding.

Prepositions with Time

A, as we have already seen, is a preposition which is used to indicate a specific time:

  • Alle nove vado in ufficio.
  • I go to the office at 9:00.
  • Alle dodici faccio la pausa pranzo.
  • I take my lunch break at 12:00.
  • All’una vado a prendere i bambini a scuola.
  • At 1:00, I go to pick up the kids from school.

Did you notice any peculiarities?

From the sentences just presented, the numbers, or rather, the time is always feminine and they need a + plural article. All except one: 1:00.

And do you know why? There is a logical explanation: the number 1 is singular while all the others are plural.

Furthermore, something else to consider is that when speaking about time, you may prefer to use mezzogiorno (midday) or mezzanotte (midnight) instead of 12:00, for example, in this case you would simply use the preposition a without any article. For example:

  • A mezzogiorno ho una riunione importantissima.
  • I have an extremely important meeting at midday.
  • Ieri sera sono tornata a casa a mezzanotte.
  • Last night I returned home at midnight.

I know that for some of you these concepts are so easy, but it is always better to go over everything again, even those things that might seem trivial.

What happens instead if we don’t have a specific time to refer to? We can then resort to per (around/approximately in English).

  • Per le 10 ho appuntamento con Luca,
  • I have a date with Luca at around 10:00.

Which means that somewhere around 10:00 I need to meet this person, but not at 10:00 on the dot, maybe give or take 10 minutes.

Prepositions with Days of the Week

When you want to talk about actions to be completed on a day of the week, you should never use prepositions. For example:

  • Martedì devo svegliarmi presto!
  • I have to wake up early on Tuesday!
  • Giovedì ho un appuntamento di lavoro molto importante.
  • I have a very important work appointment on Thursday.

Why did I reiterate such a simple rule?

Because by having many students who speak English as their first language, I’ve really often heard some of them trying to translate on Monday, on Tuesday and so on, way too literally as:

– su lunedì. su martedì, 

or even using another preposition such as A:

– a lunedì,  a martedì,

both are very incorrect!

But coming back to the topic of Italian and the right way to use words in this language, it is worth pointing out that with the days of the week, there is one  case in which it is necessary to add the determinative article, or the simple (without an article) preposition in front of them. The case in question concerns an action that is always carried out, continuously over time on a specific day of the week.

The choice of article or of the preposition will depend only and exclusively on the structure which we decide to use. Let’s take a look at some examples;

  • Il lunedì organizzo il lavoro della settimana.
  • Di lunedì organizzo il lavoro della settimana.

Both mean: On Mondays, I organize the work for the week.

  • Il sabato sera vado in pizzeria.
  • Di sabato sera vado in pizzeria.

Both mean: On Saturday evenings, I go to a pizzeria.

  • La domenica si dorme di più.
  • Di domenica si dorme di più.

Both mean: On Sundays, we sleep more.

Did you notice the structure of the sentences?

They are both correct and they both indicate that each Monday, Saturday or Sunday, this specific action is completed.

Personally, between the two shown here, I prefer one over the other. In other words, the first option with the article in front of the day of the week is what I tend to use more frequently. This, on the other hand, does not mean that you can’t choose the other form or that it would be incorrect to use!

Prepositions with Months of the Year

Even as it relates to which prepositions to use with the months of the year, we can use two different ones. In fact, to indicate the action which takes place in a given month of the year, we can employ the following structure:

– A + name of the month + action = A luglio le città di mare sono piene di turisti (In July, seaside towns are full of tourists), or

– In + name of the month + action = In luglio le città di mare sono piene di turisti (same meaning as above).

Sometimes, especially with descriptions, you could also use a form that is a little longer to describe what happens in a specific month:

– Nel mese di + name of the month + action = Nel mese di maggio sbocciano tanti fiori. (In May, many flowers bloom).

Prepositions with Years

When we refer to the years in Italian, it is always good to make a distinction. In fact, It is necessary to understand whether we are talking about a specific year or a longer time period encompassing many years.

Therefore, in this first case, let’s use nel. For example:

  • Siamo nel 2021.
  • We are in 2021.
  • Nel 2006 l’Italia è diventata campione del mondo di calcio.
  • In 2006, Italy became the the world cup champion.

In this second case, the preposition used – nel – is no longer sufficient and we have to use: negli anni… For example:

  • Negli anni ‘60 ci sono state tante lotte per l’emancipazione femminile.
  • In the 60s, there were many struggles for the emancipation of women.
  • Negli anni ‘70 andavano di moda i pantaloni a zampa di elefante.
  • In the 70s, bell-bottoms were in style.

From the above mentioned sentences, it appears that the sentences do not refer only to 1960 or 1970, but to a longer period of time between 1960 and 1969, and between 1970 and 1979.

Careful!

Before, with the advent of the new millennium, by saying the 80s people would immediately think of the 1900s, but now it is always better to specify by saying:

  • Negli anni ‘70 del ‘900 andavano di moda i pantaloni a zampa di elefante.
  • In the 1970s, bell-bottoms were in style.

This particularity is something you need to pay attention to especially for the period of time we have already lived, even in the new millennium, like 2010, 2010 (anni ’10 e ’20 del 2000).

Centuries in Italian

Talking about the years almost immediately leads us to talk about the centuries as well. Below, I will very briefly explain which prepositions to use with them, without being too detailed.

– Article + century = description of a historical period.

    • Il ‘700 è stato un periodo di grandi rivoluzioni.
    • The 18th century was a period of great revolutions.

– Articulated preposition nel + century = action that took place in a specific historic period.

    • Nel ‘700 ci sono state grandi rivoluzioni.
    • There were great revolutions in the 18th century.

As it relates to the centuries, there is so much more that could be said about this topic and many considerations to be made, also because I have already discussed them at length with students who have a very high level of Italian. Since I have already provided so much information, it seems necessary for me to stop and save the introduction of another article exclusively about centuries for another time.

ila firma

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