la a
-the a
See the entry for a.


When "a" comes before the masculine article "el," the contraction "al" is used. This word may be capitalized in the sense shown in 10) and must be capitalized in the senses shown in 11) and 12).
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)
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)
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)
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).
feminine noun
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.
An abbreviation is the shortened form of a word or group of words (e.g. "UFO" = "unidentified flying object"; "p." = "page").
12. (ampere or amperes)
a. A
El circuito transporta una corriente de 1 A.The circuit carries a current of 1 A.
La intensidad de la corriente eléctrica se mide en A.The intensity of an electric current is measured in A.
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a combines with the article el to form the contraction al (e.g. al centro to the center).
1. to (dirección)
  • voy a Sevilla I'm going to Seville
  • me voy al extranjero I'm going abroad
  • llegó a Barcelona/a la fiesta he arrived in Barcelona/at the party
2. (posición)
  • está a la derecha/izquierda it's on the right/left
  • a orillas del mar by the sea
3. (distancia)
  • está a más de 100 kilómetros it's more than 100 kilometers away
  • de Segovia a Madrid from Segovia to Madrid
4. (periodo de tiempo)
  • a las pocas semanas a few weeks later
  • al mes de casados a month after they were married
  • al día siguiente the following day
5. at (momento preciso)
  • a las siete at seven o'clock
  • a los once años at the age of eleven
  • al caer la noche at nightfall
  • al oír la noticia se desmayó on hearing the news, she fainted
6. per, every (frecuencia)
  • 40 horas a la semana 40 hours per o a week
  • tres veces al día three times a day
7. to (con complemento indirecto)
  • dáselo a Juan give it to Juan
  • dile a Juan que venga tell Juan to come
8. (con complemento directo)
  • quiere a sus hijos/su gato she loves her children/her cat
  • me cuidan como a un enfermo they look after me as if I was an invalid
9. (cantidad, medida, precio)
  • a cientos/miles/docenas by the hundred/thousand/dozen
  • la leche se vende a litros milk is sold by the liter
  • a… kilómetros por hora at… kilometers per o an hour
  • ¿a cuánto están las peras? how much are the pears?
  • tiene las peras a 2 euros she's selling pears for o at 2 euros
  • ganaron tres a cero they won three nil
10. (modo)
  • lo hace a la antigua he does it the old way
  • a lo bestia rudely
  • a lo grande in style
  • a lo Mozart after Mozart
  • a escondidas secretly
  • merluza a la vasca/gallega (cooking) Basque-style/Galician-style hake
11. (instrumento)
  • escribir a máquina to type
  • a lápiz in pencil
  • a mano by hand
  • olla a presión pressure cooker
12. to (finalidad)
  • entró a pagar he came in to pay
  • aprender a nadar to learn to swim
13. (complemento de nombre)
  • sueldo a convenir salary to be agreed
  • temas a tratar matters to be discussed
14. (condición)
  • a no ser por mí, hubieses fracasado if it hadn't been o had it not been for me, you would have failed
15. (en oraciones imperativas)
  • ¡a la cama! go to bed!
  • ¡a callar todo el mundo! quiet, everyone!
  • ¡a bailar! let's dance!
  • ¡a trabajar! let's get to work!
16. (en busca de)
  • ir a por pan to go for bread
17. (indica desafío)
  • ¿a que no lo haces? I bet you won't do it!
Copyright © 2006 Harrap Publishers Limited
1 (indicando dirección) (hacia alguna parte) to
ir al parque
voy a la tienda/al parque I'm going to the shop/to the park; ir a trabajar o al trabajo to go to work; de aquí a Sevilla se tarda una hora it's an hour from here to Seville
ir a Madrid
mirar al norte to look north(wards); de cara al norte facing north; torcer a la derecha to turn (to the) right
ir a casa to go home
(hacia dentro) into
me caí al río/mar I fell into the river/sea
caer al mar
mirarse a los ojos to look into each other's eyes; subir a un avión to get into a plane; subirse a un tren to get on a train
llegar a [+ciudad, país] to arrive in; [+edificio] to arrive at
¿cuándo llegaste a Londres? when did you arrive in London?
llegar a Londres llegar al teatro
no ha llegado todavía a la oficina she still hasn't arrived at the office
Marta llegó a la oficina
(encima de) onto
se subieron al tejado they climbed onto the roof; bajaron del tren al andén they stepped out of the train onto the platform
2 (indicando situación, distancia)
al final de la calle at the end of the street
está a 15 km de aquí
a la orilla del río on the riverbank
me lo encontré a la orilla del río nos sentamos a la orila del río a [orillas] de
al lado del cine next to the cinema; siéntate a mi lado sit next to me; sit beside me; nos pusimos a la sombra we moved into the shade; está a siete km de aquí it is seven km (away) from here; de este a aquel no hay mucha diferencia there's not much difference between this one and that one; a lo lejos in the distance
a la derecha on the right
a la izquierda on the left
estar a la mesa to be at table
estaba sentado a su mesa de trabajo he was sitting at his desk
al margen de lo que se dijo en la reunión
3 (con expresiones de tiempo) (en un momento concreto) at
a las ocho at eight o'clock; a los 55 años at the age of 55; ¿a qué hora llega el tren? what time o when does the train arrive?; estamos a tres de julio it's the third of July; a la mañana siguiente the following morning
a medianoche at midnight
a mediodía at noon
a la noche at night
a la tarde in the afternoon
(con tiempo transcurrido)
a la semana a week later; al año a year later; al año de vivir en Caracas after living in Caracas for a year; a los pocos días after a few days; a few days later; "Cervantes, a los 400 años de su muerte" "Cervantes 400 years after his death"; "Cervantes 400 years on"; a los 18 minutos de juego in the 18th minute; 18 minutes into the game; a la que te descuidas ... if you're not careful ...; before you know where you are ...
a la que te descuidas te dan el cambiazo Yo nunca fui un buen estudiante de bachillerato, lo hice todo con cincos, lo cual tiene mucho mérito, porque a la que te descuidas te dan un seis y se te va el montaje al carajo
(indicando frecuencia)
dos veces al día twice a day; una vez a la semana once a week; día a día vamos mejorando we're improving with every day; we're improving day by day
al entrar yo when I came in; al verlo, lo reconocí inmediatamente when I saw him, I recognized him immediately; nos cruzamos al salir we bumped into each other as we were going out; estar al llegar to be about to arrive; al no llegar a tiempo, quedamos fuera de la prueba since we didn't arrive on time, we were eliminated from the race
4 (indicando modo)
a la americana American-style; una cocina a gas a gas stove; funciona a pilas y a la red it runs on batteries and on mains electricity; una camisa a cuadros a check o checked shirt; una camisa a rayas a striped shirt
diseño a cuadros diseño a rayas
a pie/caballo on foot/horseback; fui a pie I walked; fui a caballo I rode; a oscuras in the dark; a lápiz in pencil; lo derribó a puñetazos she knocked him to the ground; lo mataron a navajazos they stabbed him to death; sabe a queso it tastes of cheese; huele a vino it smells of wine; es muy agradable al tacto it feels very nice
tres a tres
beber algo a sorbos to sip sth; despertarse al menor ruido to wake at the slightest sound
a mano by hand
hay que lavarlo a mano it should be washed by hand; escrito a mano hand-written; hecho a mano handmade; una sábana bordada a mano a hand-embroidered sheet
5 (indicando cantidad, precio, velocidad)
a un precio elevado at a high price; a 3 euros el kilo at o for 3 euros a kilo; los huevos están a un euro la docena eggs are a euro a dozen; al 5 por ciento at 5 per cent
a 50km por hora
íbamos a más de 120km por hora we were going at o doing over 120km an hour
avanzar [palmo] a palmo
poco a poco little by little
6 (indicando finalidad) (tras verbos) to
voy a verla I'm going to see her; ha ido a por agua a la fuente she's gone to get some water from the fountain; empezó a cantar he began to sing; he started singing; ha salido a tomar el aire she's gone out for a breath of fresh air; vengo a que me den un impreso I've come to get a form
(tras sustantivos)
el criterio a adoptar the criterion to be adopted; asuntos a tratar items to be discussed
precio a convenir price negotiable
¿cuál es la cantidad a pagar? what do we have to pay?; este será el camino a seguir this must be the path to take
7 (con complemento de persona) (como complemento indirecto) to
¿le has dado el libro a él? did you give him the book?; did you give the book to him?
se lo di a él le di dos a Pepe
le enseñé a Pablo el libro que me dejaste I showed Pablo the book you lent me; I showed the book you lent me to Pablo; el Barcelona marcó cinco goles al Madrid Barcelona scored five against Madrid
(como complemento directo (no se traduce))
vi al jefe I saw the boss; llamé al médico I called the doctor
(indicando procedencia) from
se lo compré a él I bought it from him
8 (indicando condición)
a [no] ser así, llámame
a no ser esto así, me iría if this were not the case, I'd leave
9 (indicando desafío)
a que I bet
¿a que no sabes quién ha llamado? (I) bet you can't guess who called; ¿a que no te atreves a tirarte de cabeza? (I) bet you don't dare dive in headfirst
10 (uso imperativo)
¡a callar! be quiet!; ¡a trabajar! down to work!; ¡a comer! lunch is ready!
¡ahora todo el mundo a callar!
11 (en cuanto a)
a supersticioso no hay quien le gane when it comes to being superstitious, there's nobody quite like him
Collins Complete Spanish Electronic Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers 2011
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