We have talked about the main uses of the preposition a, and that it can mean "at," "in," or "to," as well as "in the manner of," so in this lesson, we will see how this preposition is transformed when it is followed by a definite article.
Here is how we combine the preposition a with the various definite articles (that all mean "the"):
a + il = al
a + lo = allo
a + l’ = all’
a + la = alla
a + i = ai
a + gli = agli
a + le = alle
Let's look at each combination in context:
It will usually precede a masculine noun or the adjective that describes it.
E durante l'estate, il porto di Maratea diventa un ritrovo,
And during the summer, the port of Maratea becomes a meeting place,
soprattutto per i ragazzi,
above all for the kids,
i ragazzi più giovani, e anche quelli meno giovani,
he younger kids, and also the not-so-young ones,
che amano ritrovarsi qui, eh, parlare, bere qualcosa al bar.
who love to meet up here, um, to chat, have a drink at the bar.
Captions 13-15, Milena - al porto di MarateaPlay Caption
In the following example, note that before the noun there is a possessive pronoun that has to agree with the noun, as well as an adjective. The two people in the video are probably having a drink together. The clink their glasses and say "to your..." and in this case we use the preposition a.
Allora al tuo prossimo concerto.
To your next concert then.
Caption 22, Milena e Mattia - Al ristorantePlay Caption
Oggi ci troviamo allo stadio comunale Renzo Barbera di Palermo.
Today we're at the municipal stadium Renzo Barbera of Palermo.
Caption 2, Adriano - Forza PalermoPlay Caption
In the following example, even though we say il modo, not
lo modo, we do use a plus the definite article lo and it becomes allo. This is because first we have the adjective stesso which begins with an s + the consonant t. So we need the definite article lo. Like when we say: È lo stesso (It's all the same). That's something to remember. Later in this lesson we will look at a similar construction with a feminine noun.
Infatti, parliamo allo stesso modo...
In fact, we talk (in) the same way...
e facciamo le stesse cose.
and do the same things.
Captions 5-6, Amiche - sulla spiaggiaPlay Caption
Anche lui all'inizio pensava di essere un uomo libero.
At the beginning he also thought he was a free man.
Caption 13, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP2 - L'addio di LaraPlay Caption
Sometimes this same construction turns out to be feminine! This can be a headache for learners:
All'entrata del Palazzo Vecchio, ci sono due statue.
At the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio, there are two statues.
Caption 23, In giro per l'Italia - FirenzePlay Caption
Here is what you say when you want to say, "See you next time!"
Ciao a tutti, alla prossima.
Bye, everyone, see you next time. [literally, "to the next"]
Caption 76, Andromeda - La storia di UlissePlay Caption
If you visit Bologna, you might want to try le tagliatelle alla bolognese. There is a word that gets left out of this phrase but is implied: la maniera. So it is alla maniera (in the manner of)
We use alla with an adjective in Italian where in English we might use an adverb or adverbial phrase:
alla cieca (blindly)
alla buona (in a laid back, casual way)
If, instead of saying allo stesso modo, we want to say alla stessa maniera, (which means something similar: "in the same way"), note that even though stessa begins with an s + a consonant, the noun is feminine and so we say la stessa maniera, alla stessa maniera. But if we think about the fact that la stessa is easy to say, and
il stesso would be difficult, it makes a certain amount of sense:... it's easier to say. In fact if we think about it, the flow of a language is an important factor in its evolution.
Now we will move on to a plus a plural definite article.
Come tutte le nonne, fa tanti regali ai nipoti.
Like all grandmothers, she gives many presents to her grandchildren.
Caption 28, Adriano - NonnaPlay Caption
Let's note that lots of times, Italians use a normal definite article, when in English, we would use a possessive adjective (as in the previous example).
Agli is hard to say for lots of people. And as an aside, agli is also the plural of aglio (garlic). Don't worry. We mostly use aglio (garlic) in the singular, just like in English.
Cristina ci ha detto che qualche suo quadro era riuscito a venderlo.
Cristina told us that you were able to sell a few of his paintings.
Sì, agli amici.
Yes, to friends.
Captions 25-26, Il Commissario Manara - S2EP10 -La verità nascostaPlay Caption
One important way we use this combination preposition is when talking about time. The hour is said in the plural which makes sense if we think back to times when people would tell time by counting how many times the bell would chime.
La mattina mi sveglio intorno alle otto.
In the morning I wake up at around eight o'clock.
Caption 5, Adriano - GiornataPlay Caption
If you look at the transcript of just about any video, you will be able to pick out several examples of these preposizioni articolate. Look for common phrases and start repeating them, getting them into your repertoire.
Meanwhile, if you have any questions or doubts, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org