What does “tra” mean in Italian?
In today’s grammar note, we’re going to focus on how to use tra, which is a very small but common word.
It is very easy to use since it has a specific meaning.
As we stated previously, it refers to the idea of an intermediate position between two or more items, in terms of time and space.
Tra can be translated as in the middle of, between, and among.
Just so you know, in Italian, we don’t differentiate between “between” and “among”. We just say tra.
Also, we usually use the word e (and) in the same sentence since it lets us link two or more items that are in between, as you can see in the example below:
La città si trova tra le colline e il mare.
The city is located between the hills and the sea.
Let’s have a look at some more examples:
C’è un bellissimo giardino tra le due case.
There’s a beautiful garden between the two houses.
Le chiavi sono cadute tra il divano e il muro.
The keys fell between the couch and the wall.
Luigi era seduto tra la madre e la zia.
Luigi was sitting between his mother and his aunt.
C’era anche il pilota dell’aereo tra i feriti.
The pilot of the plane was among the injured.
Costerà tra i 10 e i 15 euro.
It’ll cost between 10 and 15 euros.
Sei il migliore tra i miei amici.
You’re the best among my friends.
When does tra mean in?
Tra can also mean in. This is when we’re discussing distance or time to something that will happen in the future.
Have a look at the examples below:
Ci vediamo tra un’ora.
See you in one hour.
Arriveranno tra quattro ore.
They’ll arrive in four hours.
Tra due chilometri c’è un supermercato.
There is a supermarket in two miles.
We also say tra poco a lot. It means in a short period of time or just shortly, as in the sentence below:
Tra poco arrivo.
I’ll be there shortly.
What’s the difference between tra and fra in Italian?
You might hear fra instead of tra. But there is no difference in meaning between the two forms.
Sometimes, we prefer to say one rather than the other depending on the sound of the word we’re referring to.
For example, we might prefer to say phrase A, rather than phrase B, just to avoid the repetition of the same sound:
A: tra fratelli
B: fra fratelli
A: fra tre anni
B: tra tre anni
in three years
But other than that, we use them interchangeably.
You can say either sentence A or B since they both mean the same:
A: Il treno si è fermato tra Perugia e Siena.
B: Il treno si è fermato fra Perugia e Siena.
The train stopped between Perugia and Siena.
Click here to learn all about the Italian preposition da.
Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!