What is per in Italian?
The Italian preposition per can be translated into English in many different ways and can be used in a variety of grammatical constructions.
Let’s see some examples to start:
Ho comprato una bottiglia di vino per Vittorio.
I bought a bottle of wine for Vittorio.
Siamo passati per Roma.
We went through Rome.
Stamattina sono stata al telefono con i miei genitori per due ore.
This morning I was on the phone with my parents for two hours.
How to use per?
Even if per often means for, it can also be translated in different ways depending on how it is used.
Likewise, sometimes we use for in English, but it does not translate as the Italian per.
Per as destination and reason
In this case, per is used like for and to in English, when talking about the reason for something:
Questi documenti sono per il direttore.
These papers are for the director.
L’ho fatto per te.
I did it for you.
L’abbiamo fatto per aiutarti.
We did it to help you.
Per with expressions of time
Per can also be used with expressions of time. However, it is not used exactly as for.
For example, you’d say:
Ho lavorato per 10 ore ieri.
I worked for 10 hours yesterday.
Sono uscita solo per due minuti.
I went out for only two minutes.
However, you would not use it to talk about how long you have been doing something as in English.
For that, we use the preposition da.
Studio giurisprudenza da 2 anni.
I’ve been studying law for two years.
Per with communication
Per can be used to talk about how something is transported or communicated. In this case, it is similar to the English by.
Te l’ho mandato per posta.
I sent it by post.
Abbiamo parlato per telefono.
We spoke on the phone.
L’hanno inviato per via aerea.
They sent it by airmail.
Per with movement and space
With verbs of movement, per means through.
Siamo passati per Milano.
We went through Milan.
I ladri sono entrati per la porta posteriore.
The thieves came in through the backdoor.
It can also be used to indicate a destination, for example with a train, a flight, a bus, etc.
Questo è il volo per Londra.
This is the flight to London.
Pensavo di aver preso un bus per Milano ma era per Torino!
I thought I got on a bus to Milan, but it was to Turin!
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