Italian’s possessive construction
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In English, we use ‘s (apostrophe s) to indicate that one noun possesses another. The Italian equivalent is the preposition di, with the order of the nouns reversed.
|la lettera di Roberto||Roberto’s letter|
|i caffè d’Italia||Italy’s cafés|
Literally, "the letter of Roberto" and "the cafés of Italy.”
When the owner is not a proper name, it must be preceded by a modifier, such as an article, possessive adjective, or demonstrative adjective.
|il lavoro dell’ingegnere||the engineer’s work|
|le auto della mia famiglia||my family’s cars|
|la lettera di questa ragazza||this girl’s letter|
When the owner is plural, as signified by s’ (s apostrophe) in English, the Italian modifier must be plural.
|la lettera di queste ragazze||these girls’ letter|
|le auto dei miei figli||my kids’ cars|
As always, di must contract with definite articles.
|i caffé del paese||the country’s cafés|
|il lavoro degli ingegneri||the engineers’ work|
The possessive di construction is also equivalent to a descriptive noun plus noun in English.
|le chiavi della macchina||car keys|
|un libro di storia||history book|
|succo d’arancia||orange juice|
Italian is sometimes more precise thanks to this construction, as it makes a distinction that is missing in English.
|il libro di italiano
(Italian grammar book)
|vs||il libro italiano
(book written in Italian)
(juice from oranges)
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Ciao! I’m Laura K Lawless, creator, writer, editor, and CLO (Chief Lawless Officer) of this free online Italian learning site. Lawless Italian is an official Lawless Languages site.