How to Say "To" in Italian; a Quick Guide to Master "To" in the Italian Language
“To” is a very important preposition in English with various functions. You talk to friends, travel to places, work (mostly) from Monday to Friday, look forward to doing something, or are going to do something. It would be great to know how to use "to" in Italian, wouldn’t it? We'll look into that in today's article.
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One Word, Several Translations; How to Say “To” in Italian
The different translations of the word “to” in Italian are rooted in the numerous functions it plays in communication. The uses are almost as diverse as they are in English, and some translations are better equipped to express the purpose of the word than others.
The most common translations of “to” in Italian are a, in, per, di, and da.
How to Translate “To” into Italian when Expressing Movement or Direction
When talking about movement somewhere (to a place), the most common translations are:
- a – to: Tutte le strade portano a Roma. – All roads lead to Rome. Vado a scuola. – I go to school.
- in – to (a country) Voglio tornare in Italia. – I want to go back to Italy.
Let’s take a look at some more example sentences:
- Stiamo andando a Roma. – We are going to Rome.
It can be used to express the destination of a journey or trip. When used in the first person singular, the phrase becomes Sto andando a Roma.
As you move to the third and second-person pronouns, the expression remains the same except for the pronoun, which becomes stanno for they and sta and lei sta for he and she respectively.
When talking about how you plan on getting to a destination, the word “to" is used since it connects the verb and the noun of the destination. For instance, Stiamo volando a Roma translates as “We are flying to Rome.”
- Volerò in Germania. – I will fly to Germany.
When talking about movement in connection with countries, “to” is translated as in.
Translating “To” when Describing a Receiver of an Action
In English, you would use “to” after verbs, such as to give, to talk, to lend, to show, or to pay attention. In other words, you talk about someone who receives something. No matter if it’s a book or someone's attention.
In Italian, the most common translation of “to” in this case is, again, “a”:
- Monstralo a Giuseppe. – Show it to Joseph.
- Sto scrivendo a Marco. – I’m writing to Mark.
Italian Equivalents of the English Infinitives of Purpose
In English, an infinitive with “to” is often used to answer the question “Why?” (I called him to apologize). Let’s take a look at some Italian examples to show you how to express purpose.
- Sono venuto per parlare con te. – I’ve come to talk to you.
- She stopped to smoke a cigarette. – Si fermò per fumare una sigaretta.
- Ho comprato un giornale da leggere in aeroplano. – I bought a magazine to read on the plane.
Other Verb Phrases with “To”
- Sono andato a trovarlo. – I went to visit him.
Verbs of movement are mostly followed by “a” in Italian, even with infinitives.
- Vado a cucinare. – I am going to cook.
It is used to indicate something you are planning on doing in the future. It can be used as a matter of fact, a statement, or a question.
It can either be indicative of time or an item that one is planning on cooking. The meaning is dependent on what comes before and after the phrase.
- Spero di vederti. – I hope to see you.
Although it is majorly an informal phrase used by close acquaintances expressing their desire meet, it can also be used in a semi-formal setting. It is, however, not ideal for formal spaces since it reveals a certain level of familiarity.
- Sto per restare. – I am going to stay.
This is used when indicating a desire to remain in a place. It can, however, be used when describing one’s accommodation plans. In this case, the translation of “to” shifts from “per” to "di."
Ho intenzione di stare in un hotel means I am going to stay in a hotel. The question where are you going to stay translates as: Dove avete intenzione di soggiornare?
- Non vedo l'ora di vedervi. – I look forward to seeing you.
This an informal expression to meet someone. In a much more formal setting, the appropriate phrasing would be taken from the English one that reads “I look forward to making your acquaintance” – Non vedo l'ora di farti conoscere.
- Sono pronto per partire. – I am ready to leave.
This phrase can be used both formally and informally. When asking someone if they are prepared to go, you use: sei pronto per partire?
How to Translate “To” into Italian – a Quick Summary
You can see that the preposition “to” can be used in a variety of ways. Let’s revise the most important information to remember:
- When talking about movement or direction, use “a” with cities and “in” with countries.
- When describing a receiver of an action, use “a” (Show it to John. – Monstralo a John.)
- You usually have to memorize which preposition to use after certain verbs. However, verbs of movement are mostly followed by “a.”