Trouble with "al"

Hello everyone. I'm about half way through my tree in Italian and I still don't understand when to use "al" in some situations. For instance, I'm pretty sure "Lemon tea" is "té al limone" but some objects like "Vegetarian food" is "cibo vegetariano" and that doesn't require "al". Any help or advice would be appreciated. Grazie!

August 24, 2014


"Al" means to the. Cibo vegetariano doesn't require "al" because "vegetariano" is an adjective. Té al limone requires "al" because "limone" is a noun and "al" is a contraction of "a" and "il".

August 24, 2014

al means to the when it connect to a noun in the dative case:

Do il libro alla donna. (dare qualcosa a qualcuno = indirect object = dative) I give the book to the woman.

But tè al limone does not means that I give tea to the lemon but that I have tea with the flavor of lemon.

  • a is used with accouterments, flavor and attributes:

forno a legna

una torta al cioccolato

una gonna a righe

  • a can connect infinitives:

iniziare a, rinunciare a, ostinare a, invitare a etc... the use of the prepositions with the infinitives has no rules, unfortunately you have to learn them.

  • a connected with a location:

a is used with cities: Vado a Palermo. Sono a Roma.

it's used with a location when the concrete place come to the fore and not its function: Vado alla chiesa vicino a casa (concrete place) But: vado in chiesa. Sono nella chiesa (function as a religious place). The same per example with: biblioteca, ospedale, clinica etc.

  • a is really often used in time expressions.

it's 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.

August 25, 2014
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