Quick answer
"Detrás de" is a preposition which is often translated as "behind", and "al lado" is an adverb which is often translated as "nearby". Learn more about the difference between "detrás de" and "al lado" below.
detrás de(
deh
-
trahs
 
deh
)
A preposition is a word that indicates the relationship between a noun and another word (e.g. He ran through the door.).
1. (general)
a. behind
Los motivos detrás de sus acciones son claros.The motives behind her actions are clear.
b. after
¿Quién es Celia? - Es la muchacha detrás de Felipe en la fila.Who is Celia? - She's the girl after Felipe in line.
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al lado(
ahl
 
lah
-
doh
)
An adverb is a word that describes a verb, an adjective, or other adverbs (e.g. to run quickly, very tired).
1. (indicating closeness)
a. nearby
No me tarda mucho llegar a la oficina porque vivo aquí al lado.It doesn't take me long to get to work because I live nearby.
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