How to use “da”: Italian grammar lesson 77


Dive into the versatile world of the Italian preposition “da”! This guide breaks down its multiple uses, from indicating origins to expressing time duration. Master the art of using “da” like a native speaker!

  • Origin & Movement: Use da to pinpoint where something or someone is coming from. It’s like saying “from” in English. Remember, da + article = one word. “Sono partita da casa mia” – I left my place.
  • Time Expressions: When it comes to time, da is your go-to for duration. It translates to “for” or “since”. “Studio Italiano da tre anni” means “I’ve been studying Italian for three years”.
  • At Someone’s Place: Heading to a friend’s house? Da is your buddy. “Vado a cena da Marco” – I’m going to Marco’s for dinner. It’s all about location, location, location!
  • Describing Tasks: Got stuff to do? Pair da with an infinitive verb to talk about pending tasks. “Ho email da scrivere” – I have emails to write. It’s like your to-do list in Italian!
  • Passive Voice: When you’re getting all passive-aggressive in Italian, da introduces the doer. “Scritta da Gogol” – Written by Gogol. It’s the Italian way to give credit (or blame 😉).
  • Indicating Purpose: Da can also show what something is for. “Sala da pranzo” isn’t just any room – it’s a dining room. Purposeful and precise!
  • Describing Qualities: Use da to highlight someone’s features. “Una donna dagli occhi scuri” – A woman with dark eyes. It’s like painting a picture with words!

My thoughts

What is the meaning of da in Italian?

In Italian, da is probably one of the most used prepositions and it has many meanings and uses.

In this lesson, we will learn how to use da in different contexts and how it can be translated into English.

Sono partita da casa mia.

I left my place.

L’ho buttato giù dalla finestra.

I threw it out the window.

Stasera andiamo a cena da Marco.

Tonight we are going to Marco’s for dinner.

Remember, when followed by a definite article, the preposition da joined the article to form one word. And it’s called preposizione articolata.

da + il dal
da + lo dallo (dall’)
da + la dalla (dall’)
da + i dai
da + gli  dagli
da + le dalle 

How to use da as from?

The most common use of da is as an equivalent to the English from. It can be used to describe the origins of a movement and motions, away from.

Siete partiti da Parigi?

Did you depart from Paris?

Sono uscita dal negozio.

I came out of the shop.

Sei sceso dal treno?

Have you got off the train?

It can also indicate origins and provenance when used with the verb venire, to come.

Io vengo dalla Spagna.

I come from Spain.

Luigi viene da una buona famiglia.

Luigi comes from a good family.

How to use da with expressions of time?

Da can also be used with expressions of time. In this case, it indicates how long something has been going on, it can be translated in English as for or since.

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Have a look at the examples below:

Studio Italiano da tre anni.

I have been studying Italian for three years.

Non li sento da due settimane.

I have not heard from them for two weeks.

Da quando è arrivato, non ha mangiato niente.

He has not eaten anything since he arrived.

Sometimes it can also be translated with the English in:

Non li vedo da anni.

I haven’t seen them in years.

When it is used with the imperfetto (imperfect), da can also indicate a definite point in time, like a phase or period of life.

Da bambina mi piaceva sciare.

As a child, I loved to ski.

Da piccoli non andavamo mai al mare.

We never went to the seaside when we were little.

How to use da as at someone’s house?

The Italian preposition da can also be used to describe the movement toward’s a person’s house or workplace, and also the state of being there.

Stasera vado a cena da Marco.

Tonight I’m going to Marco’s place for dinner.

Domani Giacomo va dal dentista.

Tomorrow Giacomo will go to the dentist.

Dove siete?
Siamo da Giada.

Where are you?
We’re at Giada’s place.

Practice with Quizlet

Here's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.

What are other uses of da?

Da has a lot of other uses so let’s see some of the most important ones, with examples:

  • When followed by a verb in the infinitive, it describes something that needs to be done

Ho ancora tantissime email da scrivere.

I still have so many emails to write.

  • It can describe the agent in passive sentences (as the English by)

Quest’opera teatrale è stata scritta da Gogol.

This theatre play was written by Gogol.

  • It can indicate a cause or reason for something

Mi sono addormentato dalla noia.

I fell asleep from boredom.

  • When used with nouns, it indicates purpose

sala da pranzo

dining room

carte da gioco

playing cards

vestito da sera

evening gown

  • It can be used to describe qualities in people

Una donna dagli occhi scuri.

A woman with dark eyes.

Un bambino dai capelli biondi.

A child with blond hair.

What is the meaning of "da"?

"Da" is a versatile preposition in Italian that can mean "from," "to," "for," "since," or "as," depending on the context. Its specific meaning in a sentence is determined by the context and the verb it's used with.

How to use "da"?

It can be used as from when it describes movement and provenance when followed by "venire"; it can be used with expressions of time for telling how long something has been and can be translated as since; it can also be used to indicate one is at someone's house.

Does "da" has other meanings?

Yes! Used with the infinitive it describes something that needs to be done; it can describe the agent in passive sentences; it can be used as cause and purpose and it's used to describe qualities.

Italian word of the day
Hai voglia di fare una passeggiata?
Do you feel like going for a walk?
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