Basic Spanish Prepositions

Quick Answer

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.

Simple prepositions

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

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

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)
examples
Fuimos a España.
We went to Spain.
Iremos al museo el martes.
We will go to the museum on Tuesday.
  • connect a verb to another verb in the infinitive (no direct English translation)
examples
Vamos a bailar.
We are going to dance.
Empecé a leer.
I began to read.
  • indicate manner, or how something is done (translations: on, by, with)
examples
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, aka the personal a (no direct English translation)
examples
¿Conoces a Isabela?
Do you know Isabela?
Veo a mi madre.
I see my mother.
  • introduce an indirect object (translations: to, for)
examples
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 (translation: at, although sometimes it has no direct translation)
examples
Cenamos a las seis.
We eat dinner at six o'clock.
Estamos a martes.
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')
examples
Atlanta es la capital de Georgia.
Atlanta is the capital of Georgia.
Allí está el café de Manuel.
There's Manuel's cafe.
  • indicate cause (translations: from, of, with)
examples
Estoy cansada de correr.
I am tired from running.
Estamos contentos de nuestro hijo.
We are happy with our son.
  • indicate origin (translations: from, of)
examples
Ella es de Uruguay.
She is from Uruguay.
La gente de esta región es muy alta.
The people of this region are very tall.
  • talk about the beginning of a process (translation: from)
examples
De ahora 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)
examples
Sonia es la más inteligente de la familia.
Sonia is the most intelligent person in the family.
Juan es el más grande de todos los estudiantes del quinto grado.
Juan is the biggest of all the 5th-grade students.
Hay más de 10 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)
examples
¿Puedes comprar papel de baño?
Can you buy toilet paper?
Me encanta el jugo de naranja.
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)
examples
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 (translation: in)
examples
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, or how something is done (translation: by)
examples
Vamos a Italia en tren.
We go to Italy by train.
Me voy al doctor en coche.
I go to the doctor by car.

There are also many common phrases that begin with en:

examples
en broma
as a joke
en serio
seriously
en vivo
live
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