Quick answer
"On" is a preposition which is often translated as "en", and "about" is a preposition which is often translated as "sobre". Learn more about the difference between "on" and "about" below.
on(
an
)
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 position)
a. en
There is a great photo on the front page.Hay una foto estupenda en la portada.
b. sobre
Placing hot pans on the countertop is not recommended.No es recomendable poner ollas calientes sobre la encimera.
c. encima de
Where are my glasses? - I left them on the table.¿Dónde están mis lentes? - Las dejé encima de la mesa.
2. (used to indicate place)
a. en
The village is on the border.El pueblo está en la frontera.
3. (used to indicate time, date or day)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Our anniversary is on Saturday.Nuestro aniversario es el sábado.
Where were you on the morning of September 30th?¿Dónde estabas la mañana del 30 de septiembre?
4. (used to indicate a completed action; used with gerund)
a. al
On arriving home, her husband told her the bad news.Al llegar a casa, su marido le contó la mala noticia.
b. tras
On finishing her studies, she went traveling in Europe.Tras finalizar sus estudios, se fue a viajar por Europa.
5. (used to indicate the subject)
a. sobre
Today, you have the chance to have your say on the matter.Hoy tiene la oportunidad de dar su opinión sobre el tema.
b. acerca de
He wrote a controversial book on Mexican politics.Escribió un controvertido libro acerca de la política mexicana.
6. (used to indicate the use of drugs or medication)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Are you on any medication?¿Toma algún medicamento?
The driver was a young kid on drugs.El conductor era un chico que iba drogado.
7. (used to indicate activity or treatment)
a. de (trip, tour or vacation)
The band will be on tour until December.El grupo estará de gira hasta diciembre.
b. a (diet)
I need to go on a diet and lose weight.Tengo que ponerme a dieta y bajar peso.
8. (used to indicate source)
a. de
Some sharks feed on plankton.Algunos tiburones se alimentan de plancton.
9. (used to indicate membership or inclusion)
Regionalism used in the United States
(United States)
a. en
He's on the Olympic swimming team.Está en el equipo olímpico de natación.
10. (telecommunications)
a. en (the Internet)
I spent hours on the Internet looking for information for my paper.Pasé horas en Internet buscando de información para mi trabajo.
b. a (the phone)
I have to talk with my boss, but he's on the phone at the moment.Tengo que hablar con mi jefe pero está al teléfono ahora mismo.
11. (radio or TV)
a. en
Your favorite show is on TV tonight.Esta noche ponen tu programa favorito en la tele.
12. (transport)
a. en (in a bus, train or airplane)
I always get sick on the bus.Siempre me mareo en el autobús.
b. a (into a bus, train or airplane)
We got on the plane at six, but we only took off half an hour later.Subimos al avión a las seis pero tardamos media hora en despegar.
13. (music)
a. a
Playing on keyboards, Dave! A big round of applause for him!¡Al teclado, Dave! ¡Un fuerte aplauso para él!
14. (according to)
a. según
The order will be delivered based on your instructions.Se entregará el pedido según sus instrucciones.
b. de acuerdo con
He was acting on your advice.Él obraba de acuerdo con tus consejos.
15. (about one's person)
a. encima
Since she got robbed in the street, she doesn't like to have money on her.Desde que la atracaron en la calle, no le gusta llevar dinero encima.
b. consigo
He had no guns on him.No llevaba armas consigo.
16. (used to indicate who pays)
a. por cuenta de
The dinner is on my father, and I will buy the cinema tickets.La cena va por cuenta de mi padre y yo pago las entradas para el cine.
An adverb is a word that describes a verb, an adjective, or other adverbs (e.g. to run quickly, very tired).
17. (in place)
a. puesto
You can leave the tablecloth on.Puedes dejar el mantel puesto.
18. (with clothing)
a. puesto
You can leave your hat on.Puedes dejarte el sombrero puesto.
19. (used to indicate time or place ahead)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
From next year on, I will be pursuing my real dream.A partir del año que viene, perseguiré mi verdadero sueño.
There's a gas station a couple of miles further on.Hay una gasolinera un par de millas más adelante.
20. (used to indicate continuation)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Dream on; nothing is impossible!¡Sigue soñando, que nada es imposible!
She went on and on about how smart her kids were.No paraba de hablar de lo inteligentes que eran sus hijos.
An adjective is a word that describes a noun (e.g. the big dog).
21. (in operation)
a. encendido
If the lights are on, the store's open.Si las luces están encendidas, la tienda está abierta.
b. prendido
Regionalism used in Latin America: all the countries in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Does not include Spain.
(Latin America)
While the oven is on, I'll bake this cake.Como está prendido el horno, hornearé esta torta.
22. (occurring)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
The race is on to find the missing ship.Ya empezó la carrera para encontrar el barco desaparecido.
This event is still on, despite the rain!¡El evento sigue en pie a pesar de la lluvia!
23. (radio, TV, theater or cinema)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Is there anything good on at the movies?¿Están dando algo bueno en el cine?
Your favorite song is on right now.Está sonando tu canción favorita ahora mismo.
24. (on duty)
a. de turno
Who’s on this weekend?¿Quién está de turno este fin de semana?
25. (used to indicate agreement)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
I bet you $20 she doesn’t turn up. - You’re on!Te apuesto $10 a que no viene. - ¡Trato hecho!
I'll buy you dinner if you ask her out. - OK, you're on.Te invito a cenar si le pides que salga contigo - Vale.
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about(
uh
-
baut
)
A preposition is a word that indicates the relationship between a noun and another word (e.g. He ran through the door.).
1. (concerning)
a. sobre
The movie we saw last night was about World War I.La película que vimos anoche era sobre la Primera Guerra Mundial.
b. acerca de
That new series about petroleum is fascinating.Esa nueva serie acerca del petróleo es fascinante.
c. de
I'm reading a book about history.Estoy leyendo un libro de historia.
d. por
My husband hasn't been feeling well lately. I'm worried about him.Mi esposo no se encuentra bien últimamente. Estoy preocupada por él.
2. (associated with)
a. en
There is something about his expression that intrigued me.Hay algo en su expresión que me intrigaba.
3.
A word or phrase restricted in usage to literature or established writing (e.g. sex, once upon a time).
(literary)
(around)
a. alrededor de
The girl put her arm about her teddy bear.La niña puso el brazo alrededor de su oso de peluche.
4. (engaged in)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Since you're about it, will you make me some tea?Ya que estás en ello, ¿me preparas una taza de té?
While I'm about it, I'll ask our neighbor to watch the cat while we're away.De paso, le pediré a la vecina que nos cuide el gato mientras estamos fuera.
5. (in a place) (United Kingdom)
a. en
Lady Mary is walking about the park.Lady Mary está caminando en el parque.
b. por
We were strolling about the old quarter for a while and then went back to the hotel.Estuvimos paseando un rato por el casco antiguo y luego volvimos al hotel.
6. (on one's person) (United Kingdom)
a. con
I don't have the papers about me.No tengo los documentos conmigo.
An adverb is a word that describes a verb, an adjective, or other adverbs (e.g. to run quickly, very tired).
7. (approximately)
a. aproximadamente
There are about 40 guests in the hotel.Hay aproximadamente 40 huéspedes en el hotel.
b. alrededor de
The trout Alexander caught weighed about 55 pounds.La trucha que pescó Alexander pesaba alrededor de 55 libras.
c. más o menos
It was about 10 am when the doctor called.Eran más o menos las 10 am cuando llamó el doctor.
8. (on the point of; used with "to")
a. a punto de
The train is about to leave the station.El tren está a punto de salir de la estación.
9. (around; often used with "all")
a. por todas partes
There was candy all about after the Halloween party.Había dulces por todas partes después de la fiesta de Halloween.
b. de un lado a otro
The cat was running about like a madman all over the house.El gato corría de un lado a otro como un loco por toda la casa.
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