Prepositions are used to indicate a relationship between two words or phrases, linking them together. They are often used to indicate relationships of location, direction, or time.
As the prefix pre in the word preposition suggests, prepositions precede the word or words they link. There are simple prepositions, which consist of only one word, and compound prepositions, which consist of multiple words.
Below you will find a list of some of the most common simple prepositions in Spanish.
before, in the presence of
in, on, at
for, in order to
about, on, upon, above, over, around
See the article on por vs. para for more information on this tricky pair of prepositions.
Using Spanish Prepositions
In most cases, prepositions are used the same way in Spanish as they are in English, and you will find their placements fairly logical. There are a few Spanish prepositions, however, that warrant a little extra attention. Below you'll find more in-depth information on a few of the most common Spanish prepositions.
Preposition Profile: a
This very common preposition can mean to, at, by, or for, among other translations.
It can be used to:
indicate motion (translation: to)
We went to Spain.
Iremosal museo el martes.
We will go to the museum on Tuesday.
connect a verb to another verb in the infinitive (no direct English translation)
We are going to dance.
I began to read.
indicate manner, or how something is done (translations: on, by, with)
We went on foot.
I did it by hand.
He writes with a pencil.
introduce a person as a direct object, aka the personal a (no direct English translation)
Do you know Isabela?
I see my mother.
introduce an indirect object (translations: to, for)
Le di el regaloaCelia.
I gave the gift to Celia.
Compré los tomatesaAnita.
I bought the tomatoes for Anita.
express time (translation: at, although sometimes it has no direct translation)
Cenamosa las seis.
We eat dinner at six o'clock.
It is Tuesday.
Preposition Profile: de
This preposition can mean of, from, or with, among other translations. It can be used to:
indicate possession (translations: of or possessive 's or s')
Atlanta es la capitaldeGeorgia.
Atlanta is the capital of Georgia.
Allí está el cafédeManuel.
There's Manuel's cafe.
indicate cause (translations: from, of, with)
I am tired from running.
Estamos contentosdenuestro hijo.
We are happy with our son.
indicate origin (translations: from, of)
She is from Uruguay.
La gentedeesta región es muy alta.
The people of this region are very tall.
talk about the beginning of a process (translation: from)
Deahora en adelante solo voy a tomar café en la mañana.
From now on I'm only going to drink coffee in the morning.
compare or talk about a member of a group (translations: in, of or than)
Sonia es la más inteligentedela familia.
Sonia is the most intelligent person in the family.
Juan es el más grandedetodos los estudiantes del quinto grado.
Juan is the biggest of all the 5th-grade students.
Hay másde10 personas en la clase de historia.
There are more than 10 people in the history class.
describe a noun using another noun (translation: of, although it often has no direct translation)
¿Puedes comprar papeldebaño?
Can you buy toilet paper?
Me encanta el jugodenaranja.
I love orange juice.
Preposition Profile: en
This common preposition can mean in, on, at, about, or by, among other translations. It can be used to:
indicate location (translations: in, on, at)
It is in my backpack.
Pon el cuadroenla pared.
Put the painting on the wall.
Ellos estánenla iglesia.
They are at church.
to indicate time (translation: in)
Fui a Perúenel verano.
I went to Peru in the summer.
They are arriving in one hour.
to indicate manner, or how something is done (translation: by)
Vamos a Italiaentren.
We go to Italy by train.
Me voy al doctorencoche.
I go to the doctor by car.
There are also many common phrases that begin with en: