“Pensare a” in Italian: Grammar Lesson

Key Takeaways

Get ready to immerse yourself in the Italian language with the classic tune “E penso a te” by Lucio Battisti. This guide will walk you through the nuances of expressing thoughts in Italian, using the phrase “pensare a” like a native speaker. 🤔

  • Meaning and Context: Discover how pensare translates to “to think” and varies in meaning based on context. For instance, Sto pensando di means considering something, while Abbiamo pensato a expresses a thought.
  • Prepositions: Understand the importance of prepositions following “pensare”. “Pensare a” is used for thinking of/about someone or something, while “pensare di” is used for expressing an opinion or intention.
  • Grammar Structure: Learn the different grammatical constructions with “pensare a” such as using proper nouns, pronouns, articles, and infinitive verbs.
  • Examples: Review various examples illustrating the use of “pensare a” and “pensare di” in different contexts to understand their applications better.
  • Practice: Enhance your understanding by listening to the song E penso a te by Lucio Battisti, which uses “pensare a” in its lyrics.

Quick facts

How do you express "thinking of someone" in Italian?

In Italian, you use "pensare a" followed by the person's name or a pronoun, like "penso a te" for "I think of you."

What preposition is used with "pensare" when referring to someone?

The preposition "a" is used with "pensare" to indicate thinking of someone or something, as in "penso a Maria."

How do you say "I think of you" using a pronoun in Italian?

You say "E penso a te," where "te" is the pronoun for "you."

When combining "a" with definite articles, how does it change?

"A" combines with articles like "il" to form "al," "la" to "alla," and so forth, adjusting for gender and number.

Can you give an example of "pensare a" with an article?

Yes, "Sto pensando al mio gatto" means "I'm thinking about my cat," where "al" combines "a" and "il."

How do you ask "Who are you thinking about?" in Italian?

You ask "A chi pensi?" where "a" is placed at the beginning to form the question.

Provide a phrase using "pensare a" in the context of future thoughts.

"Devi pensare al futuro" means "You have to think about the future," combining "a" with the article "il."

How do you express thinking of multiple people in Italian?

Use "pensare a" with the appropriate plural article, like "Sto pensando a loro" for "I'm thinking about them."

How can "pensare a" be used to refer to an activity?

You can say "Sto pensando a tutto quello che devo fare," meaning "I'm thinking of all the things I still have to do."

How to ask "What are you thinking about?" in Italian?

The question "A cosa pensi?" directly translates to "What are you thinking about?" and uses "a" at the beginning.

My Thoughts

“Pensare” in Italian

The verb pensare means “to think”, but its translation might slightly change depending on what you want to say, like in the examples below:

Sto pensando di iscrivermi all’università.

I’m thinking of enrolling in university.

Abbiamo pensato a un bel regalo per Giovanni.

We thought about a nice present for Giovanni.

As you can see, in the first case it takes on the meaning of considering something, while in the second it is merely the expression of a thought.

Another detail I hope you noticed is the preposition that follows the verb “pensare”. On the one hand, we have the preposition “a”, on the other hand, we have the preposition “di”.

Let me explain to you the main differences between these two.

Penso sempre ai miei amici.

“Pensare a” vs “Pensare di”

“Pensare a” in Italian

In Italian, we use the construction pensare + a to express that we are thinking of (or about) something or someone. This is the easiest use and translation of the verb “pensare”, but what is relevant, is the fact that the preposition can be followed by different grammatical items.

  • Pensare a + proper noun/pronoun

When we refer to someone, we might use their name, but we might also just use a followed by a stressed object pronoun.

a me
a te
a lui/lei
a noi
a voi
a loro

Penso sempre a Maria.

I always think of Maria.

Penso sempre a te.

I always think of you.

If you want to ask what or who someone is thinking about, you have to place the a at the beginning of the question, as in the examples below:

A cosa pensate?

What are you thinking about?

A chi pensi?

Who are you thinking about?

  • Pensare a + article

Of course, when we use a common noun, we might need an article before it. In this case, we must combine the preposition a with an article, depending on the gender and number of what we’re referring to:

il + a al
lo + a allo
la + a all’ / alla
i + a ai
gli + a agli
le + a alle

Have a look at the examples below:

Stai pensando alle tue bambine?

Are you thinking about your girls?

  • Pensare a + infinitive

In Italian, the phrase “pensare a” followed by an infinitive verb generally means “to think about” or “to consider” doing something. This is very commonly interchangeable with “pensare di” which I will explain below.

Pensi sempre a fumare! Non è salutare!

You are always thinking about smoking! It is not healthy!

“Pensare di” in Italian

In Italian, the construction “pensare di” is followed by an infinitive verb and is used to express an opinion or intention, or to indicate the act of considering doing something.

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It is equivalent to the English “to think of” or “to plan on”, but it often leans more towards expressing a thought process or decision about an action.

Penso di partire domani.

I plan to leave tomorrow.

Penso di accettare l’offerta di lavoro.

I am thinking of accepting the job offer.

While “pensare a” focuses more on the contemplation or consideration of an action (similar to pondering), “pensare di” is typically more decisive or opinion-based.

Penso sempre ai miei amici.

E Penso a Te

Now that you have understood the different uses of pensare in Italian, try listening to the song below by Lucio Battisti. Its title is E penso a te, so it is perfect to practice this new topic.

Io lavoro e penso a te.
Torno a casa e penso a te.
Le telefono e intanto penso a te.
Come stai? E penso a te.
Dove andiamo? E penso a te.

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions


When do we use "pensare a"?

When we think of (or about) something or someone.

Can "pensare a" be used with a pronoun?

Yes! Pensare a + pronoun (me, te, lui/lei, noi, voi, loro).

Can "pensare a " be combined with an article?

Yes! Pensare a + article (al, allo, all'/alla, ai, agli, alle).

Italian word of the day
Non capivo più niente dal sonno.
I was so tired that I couldn’t think.
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