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Italian Language/"pensare di" or "pensare a"

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Question
Dear Maria,

My question is about the use of the verb “pensare” to mean “to wonder”.

The English to Italian section of my dictionary states that “pensare di” is used to say “to wonder about”.  This dictionary gave the following example:  “Pensavo di andare fuori a cena”.  (I wondered about going out for dinner)

But, the Italian to English section of this same dictionary states that “pensare a” means “to think about”

Is it possible that “pensare” must be followed by the preposition “di”  to say - “to wonder about”,  but “pensare” must be followed by the preposition “a” to say “to think about” ?  

Does “pensare di” mean - “to wonder about” (but does not mean - “to think about”) ?  

Does “pensare a” mean - “to think about” (but does  not mean -  “to wonder about”) ?

I am confused, and hope you will not mind also explaining to me why “pensare” cannot be followed by the preposition “di” in the following sentence  -  “Stavo pensando particolarmente di linea quattro in cui Piero dice – “Ma a una condizione”.   

In this sentence, I was trying to say  -  “I am especially wondering about line four in which Piero says – “Ma a una condizione”

Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Rich

Answer
Dear Rich,

actually the sentence  “I wondered about going out for dinner” corresponds to: “Pensavo di andare fuori a cena” or better to:“Stavo riflettendo se andare fuori a cena” /”Mi domandavo se andare fuori a cena”, with a margin of error/uncertainty, since the subject of this sentence expresses a possibility, not a certainty as to whether  he  actually will go out for dinner.

Therefore “pensare” must be followed by the preposition “di”  to say - “to wonder about” in the sense I’ve  pointed out,  but “pensare” must be followed by the preposition “a” to say “to think about”.  

In short,  “pensare di”  can mean - “to wonder about” (but does not mean - “to think about”), while “pensare a” means - “to think about” (but does  not mean -  “to wonder about”).


As for  the reason why “pensare” cannot be followed by the preposition “di” in the following sentence  -  “Stavo pensando particolarmente di linea quattro in cui Piero dice..”, please note that the correct Italian sentence must be “Stavo pensando particolarmente alla linea quattro in cui Piero dice....” (“I am especially thinking about line four in which Piero says...) simply because there is no margin of error/uncertainty here, but a real fact.

Hope I made myself understood.

Best,

Maria

Italian Language

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Maria

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Italian is my mother tongue and I'll be glad to answer any questions concerning Italian Language.

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Over 25 years teaching experience.

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I received my Ph.D.in Classics (summa cum laude) from Genova University (Italy).

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