You are here:

Italian Language/use of prepositions "in" and "a"


Dear Maria,

I hope you had a very nice vacation!

My question is about the use of the preposition “in” in the following sentence:
“Io gioca nel parco.   (I play in the park)

Can you please tell me if it is mandatory to use the preposition “in” in this sentence.  Or, would it also be possible to use the preposition “a” as in:  
“Io gioca al parco.”   (I play at the park)

I was also wondering why the preposition “in” has been articulated in the sentence.  I have learned in the past that the preposition “in” is not articulated when used with expressions that refer to areas of a city.   Since a park is an area inside of a cit, would it be possible to say – “Io gioca in parco”  (I play in the park)

Finally, I was also wondering about the translation of the prepositions “in” and “a” in these sentences.  Could both “in and “a” be translated as either “in” or “at” in these sentences.  For example, can “Io gioca nel parco” and “Io gioca al parco” (or  “Io gioca in parco” and “Io gioca a parco”  if the prepositions are not articulated) both be translated as  - “I play in the park” and/or  “I play at the park”.

Thank you so much.  I so much appreciate your help with my questions.  



Dear Rich,

In “Io gioco nel parco” (I play in the park) it is mandatory to use the preposition “in”  instead of “a” as in “Io gioco al parco”  because “nel parco” is an indirect object of Place Where, i.e. a “complemento di stato in luogo”  in Italian, as it is used with verbs that  denote the place where  an action takes place.

Instead,  “al parco” would be an indirect object of Place  to which, i.e. a  “complemento di moto a luogo” in Italian as it is used with verbs that show motion towards a place, as in e.g. “Io vado al parco” (I’m going to the park).

Therefore,  “Io gioco in parco” is absolutely wrong, as  the preposition “in” must be articulated because “park”  is an area inside of a city, but is not a geographic name as e.g. Italia, Francia, Inghilterra, America, etc. ,Piemonte, Toscana, Liguria, etc., and Milano, Roma, Genova, Firenze, Napoli, etc., that is to say the names of  countries, regions and cities, though with the cities we use “a” rather than “in” as in e.g. “Abito a Torino”, “Mi piacerebbe vivere a Roma”, etc.

See for example: “Vivo in America”, “Vado in Francia”, “Abito in Liguria”, “Mi sono stabilito in Sicilia”, “ La mia casa č in / a Milano”, “La sua famiglia sta in/ a Urbino”,  etc.

As for the English translations - “I play in the park” and/or  “I play at the park”, they  both correspond   to “Io gioco nel parco” which is the correct form in Italian.

Finally note that “gioca” is wrong, as it is the 3rd person singular meaning “she/he plays”, while “Io gioco” (1st.person singular) is “I play”.

Hope this is clear enough.

Best regards,


P.S. Yes, I had a very nice vacation in Bologna where I visited  some art exhibitions.

Italian Language

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts




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


Over 25 years teaching experience.

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

This expert accepts donations:

©2016 All rights reserved.