Between the most common mistakes that even native speakers often do, there is the use of graphic accent and apostrophe in monosyllabic words such as “da”, “dà” and “da’”, and “fa”, “fà” and “fa’”.
But what is the difference between these words? What do they mean?
Let’s make it clear.
“Fa” is the third person of the present tense of the verb “fare”, which means “to do”.
It is also used in temporal locutions such as:
-un’ora fa (one hour ago)
-un anno fa (one year ago)
and, as you can see, it means “ago”.
“Fa’” is the second person of the imperative mood of the verb “fare”.
It means: “do it!” and the apostrophe is due to the apocope of the final “i” in “fai” (you do).
-fa’ come ti dico! (do as I tell you!)
“Fà” is sometimes used as the third person of the present tense of “fare”, but it’s incorrect.
You can eventually find it in single-word compound verbs such as “rifare” (“to do again”):
-lui rifà il letto (he makes the bed)
“Da” is one of the nine simple prepositions you find in Italian.
As kids, everyone in Italy has been taught by his or her teacher the rhyme: “di, a, da, in, con, su, per, tra, fra!”.
Simple prepositions do not require any graphic accent, because they are not stressed in Italian.
“Da” has different meanings:
-modal: ho fatto tutto da solo (I did everything by myself)
-temporal: abito in Italia da due anni / dal 2002 (I’ve been living in Italy for two years / since 2002)
-locative: Vengo dalla Russia (I come from Russia) [dalla is compound: da+la, but this is another argument]
and many others.
As for “fa’”, “da’” is the second person of the imperative mood of the verb “dare”, “to give”, and the apostrophe derives from the apocope of the final “i” of “dai” (you give).
-(ri)da’ la bambola a tua sorella! (give the doll [back] to your sister!)
This time the form “dà” is correct.
It is the third person of the present tense of the verb “dare”, to give, and it means “he/she gives”.
We use the accent to differ it from the simple preposition “da”, and because while the preposition is unstressed, the verb is stressed.
-Luca dà il libro ad Andrea. (Luca gives the book to Andrea).
Is it more clear now?