Possessive di

Italian’s possessive construction

Italian possessive di
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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.

Per esempio…

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.

Per esempio…

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.

Per esempio…

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.

Per esempio…

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)
  Italian book
succo d’arancia
(juice from oranges)
vs succo arancione
(orange-colored juice)
  orange juice

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Italian possessive di