What are expressions of time in Italian?
If you are studying a foreign language like Italian, you will soon realize how important and useful expressions of time are in everyday life and conversation.
In this lesson, we will look at some of the most commonly used prepositions you can use when talking about time: tra (in) and fa (ago), and in (in).
Arrivo tra mezz’ora, va bene?
I will arrive in half an hour, is that ok?
Ci siamo laureate 3 anni fa.
We graduated 3 years ago.
Riesci a finirlo in un’ora?
Will you be able to finish it in one hour?
How to use tra?
The Italian preposition tra has more than one use. But when we talk about time, it indicates how long we have to wait for something to happen.
It describes the amount of time to something in the future.
Fabrizia parte tra due giorni.
Fabrizia is leaving in two days.
Il concerto è tra una settimana.
The concert is in one week.
As you might already know, there is another preposition in Italian that looks very similar to tra: fra.
Do not worry! They are so similar for a reason: there is no difference in meaning between tra and fra.
Italian speakers use them according to personal preference, habit, and phonetics.
Mio fratello compie gli anni fra tre giorni.
My brother’s birthday is in three days.
How to use fa?
The preposition fa is the Italian equivalent of ago. Its use is pretty simple and can come after right after all kinds of expressions of time to talk about the past.
Have a look at the examples below:
Ho finito di lavorare un’ora fa.
I finished working one hour ago.
Giovanna si è sposata due settimane fa.
Giovanna got married two weeks ago.
Quanto tempo fa è successo?
How long ago did it happen?
Remember, just like ago, fa must come after the expression of time!
Practice with QuizletHere's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.
How to use in?
The preposition in can be used in Italian to talk about a set amount of time within which an action or event will take place.
It can be translated into English as within or in.
Here are some examples:
Ho finito il libro in soli tre giorni. Mi è piaciuto molto.
I finished the book in just three days. I really liked it.
Sandro si è laureato in tre anni.
Sandro graduated in three years.
In una settimana ho perso due chili.
I lost 2 kilos in one week.
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