Use of "di," "a," "in," and "nel" for time in Italian. When do you use which?
I'm currently in the "time" section of Italian Duolingo, and for the life of me, I just can't figure out when to use each preposition for each different time. For the word "mattina" sometimes Duolingo uses "di" and sometimes it uses "a," whereas for places or months, Duolingo uses "in" or "di."
Can someone please help explain which preposition you use for different scenarios? Because I'm completely lost.
is used to express a specific or approximate time:
a Pasqua, a Natale
all'inizio, alla fine del mese
A domani! (See you tomorrow)
it's used to express a temporal distance:
- a un ora da Roma
it is used with "primavera":
- a primavera (but you can always use: in primavera instead of a primavera)
often it's used with months, but in these cases the use of in is preferable
is used if the moment/time/date expression utilized a month, a season, a century or an epoch
in aprile, in dicembre etc.
in inverno, in primavera, in estate, in autunno
(If the month or season is specified by something you have to use in + definite article, you also have to use in + definite article with centuries and epochs)
Sono stata in Grecia in aprile.
Sono stata in Grecia nell'aprile 2001.
nell'ottocento, nel 2013, negli anni Trenta
it's used with the definite article (in + definite article) for specific days and nights.
Ci siamo incontrati nel giorno del mio compleanno (= We met the day of my birthday) (in this case you can also use:.... il giorno del mio compleanno)
Nella notte del 13. marzo (= in the night of 13. March) (but also in this case you can use: La notte del 13. marzo)
it's used to express "within": Sarò pronta in un'ora. (in this case you can use also "entro")
is used with the time of day:
- di sera, di mattina, di notte, di giorno
(in the case of mattina, pomeriggio sera the expressions
correre la mattina/la sera/ il pomeriggio
correre di mattina/di sera/di pomeriggio
correre alla mattina/alla sera /al pomeriggio (also: nel pomeriggio)
all are synonyms).
Sometimes it's only a regional question. In north Italy the expressions "alla mattina, alla sera etc." are more used. In my opinion it's the best to remember the cases which can always be used. (i.e. it's better to remember "di" which can be used with all the times of day)
also with some seasons (it's not used with primavera!! "a primavera" or "in primavera")
- d'inverno, d'estate, d'autunno (but also in this cases you can always use "in")
"di" can also expresses an habit:
On Sunday = Di/La domenica (every Sunday):
Di domenica pomeriggio mangio la torta. = On Sunday afternoons I eat cake. (habit)
has the meaning "since, for":
- da ieri, dalle otto in poi
da ... a + articolo
expressed the beginning and the end of a period of time
- dalle due alle tre
fino a/ sino a
has the meaning "until, to"
- musica fino a mattina
(this is the only case I can remember using mattina with only the preposition "a" (but maybe I am wrong)).
When do you use "a" with a month, for example, "a gennaio"? What is the rule ?
I have a friend from Venice sitting with me and she has just said if it mattered once, it doesn't anymore, they are interchangeable... she uses both.