Quick answer
"De pequeño" is a phrase which is often translated as "when I was little", and "a" is a preposition which is often translated as "to". Learn more about the difference between "de pequeño" and "a" below.
de pequeño(
deh
 
peh
-
keh
-
nyoh
)
A phrase is a group of words commonly used together (e.g once upon a time).
phrase
1. (general)
a. when I was little (first person)
De pequeño pasaba casi todos los veranos en casa de mis abuelos.When I was little, I spent most summers at my grandparents'.
b. when you were little (second person)
De pequeño te encantaban estos dibujos animados. ¿No te acuerdas?You used to love these cartoons when you were little. Don't you remember?
c. when he was little (third person)
Yo recuerdo a Óscar de pequeño, pero hace años que no lo veo.I remember Oscar when he was little, but I haven't seen him for ages.
d. as a child
De pequeño, era graciosísimo. ¿Quién iba a pensar entonces que se convertiría en un imbécil de este calibre?As a child, he was really cute. Who'd have thought back then he'd become a moron of this caliber?
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a(
ah
)
A preposition is a word that indicates the relationship between a noun and another word (e.g. He ran through the door.).
1. (used to indicate direction)
a. to
Ve a tu habitación.Go to your room.
2. (used to indicate position)
a. to
A la izquierda puedes ver el parque.To your left you can see the park.
3. (used to indicate an exact moment)
a. at
Saldremos al amanecer.We will leave at dawn.
4. (used to indicate mode)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Podía respirar a duras penas.He was hardly able to breathe.
5. (the personal "a")
a. to
No te olvides de escribir a tus abuelos.Don't forget to write to your grandparents.
6. (used to give orders)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
¡A fregar los platos!Go do the dishes!
¡A la cama!Off to bed!
7. (used with quantities)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Me encantaría ganar dinero a espuertas.I would love to earn lots of money.
Llovía a cántaros.It was pouring.
8. (used to express purpose)
a. to
Vino a saludar.He came to say hello.
9. (used to express frequency)
a. per
Trabajo ocho horas al día.I work eight hours per day.
A feminine noun is almost always used with feminine articles and adjectives (e.g. la mujer bonita, la luna llena).
10. (letter)
a. a
Ese adjetivo debe terminar con una a.That adjective should end in an a.
11. (music)
a. A
El pianista tocó una A.The pianist played an A.
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