Basic Prepositions
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Prepositions are used to indicate a relationship between two words, linking them together. These words usually show location, direction, or time. As preposition suggests, these words precede the word or words it links. There are simple prepositions, which consist of only one word, and compound prepositions, which consist of multiple words.

Simple prepositions

Below you will find a list of the most common simple prepositions in Spanish.

a to, at desde from, since detrás de behind
ante before, in the presence of en in, on, at según according to
bajo under entre between, among sin without
con with hacia until, toward sobre about, on, upon, above, over, around
contra against hasta until, toward tras after, behind
de of, from por for, by para for, in order to

See the article on por vs. para for more information on these similar prepositions

Uses

In most cases, prepositions are used the same way in Spanish as they are used in English and you will find their placements fairly logical. There are a few, however, that warrant a little extra attention. For each preposition below you will find the occasions it is used most commonly as well as several examples with translations since one preposition in Spanish can have many different translations in English.

This is a very common preposition that can mean to, at, by, or for depending on the manner it is used. It can be used to:

indicate motion (to)

  • Fuimos a España. (We went to Spain.)
  • Iremos al museo el martes. (We will go to the museum on Tuesday.)

connect one verb to an infinitive (not translated directly)

  • Vamos a bailar. (We are going to dance.)
  • Empecé a leer. (I began to read.)

indicate manner, how something is done (on, by, with)

  • Vamos a pie. (We went on foot.)
  • Lo hice a mano. (I did it by hand.)
  • Escribe a lápiz. (He writes with a pencil.)

introduce a person as a direct object - “Personal a” (not translated directly)

  • ¿Conoces a Isabela? (Do you know Isabela?)
  • Veo a mi madre. (I see my mother.)

introduce an indirect object (to, for)

  • Le di el regalo a Celia. (I gave the gift to Celia.)
  • Compré los tomates a Anita. (I bought the tomatoes for Anita.)

express time (at, is)

  • Cenamos a las seis. (We eat dinner at six o'clock.)
  • Estamos a martes. (It is Tuesday.)

De 

This preposition can mean of or from,  depending on the use. It can be used to:

indicate possession (of)

  • Atlanta es la capital de Georgia. (Atlanta is the capitol of Georgia.)
  • El café de Manuel (Manuel's cafe)

indicate cause (from, with)

  • Estoy cansada de correr. (I am tired from running.)
  • Estamos contentos de nuestro hijo. (We are happy with our son.)

indicate origin (from, of)

  • Ella es de Uruguay. (She is from Uruguay.)
  • Sonia es la más inteligente de la familia. (Sonia is the most intelligent of the family.)

describe a noun with another noun or infinitive (of)

  • Un vaso de vino (A glass of wine)
  • El jugo de naranja (Orange juice)

compare (than)

  • Juan es el más grande de todos los estudiantes del quinto grado. (Juan is the biggest of all 5th grade students.)
  • Hay más de 10 personas en la clase de historia. (There are more than 10 people in the history class.

and also in idioms

  • De ahora en adelante (From now on)
  • De pie (Standing)

En

This common preposition can mean in, on, at, about, or by depending on the context. It can be used to:

indicate location (in, on, at)

  • Está en mi mochila. (It is in my backpack.)
  • Pon el cuadro en la pared. (Put the painting on the wall.)
  • Ellos están en la iglesia. (They are at church.)

to indicate time (in)

  • Fui a Perú en el verano. (I went to Peru in the summer.)
  • Vienen en una hora. (They are arriving in one hour.)

to indicate manner, how something is done (by)

  • Vamos a Italia en tren. (We go to Italia by train.)
  • Me voy al doctor en coche. (I go to the doctor by car.)

idioms (see compound prepositions below)

  • En broma (As a joke)
  • En serio (Seriously)
  • En vivo (Live)

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