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Spanish Prepositions: The Definitive Guide

Do you want to know a secret about Spanish prepositions? Even we native Spanish speakers use them wrong at times, but don’t fret. With this guide, you will learn what Spanish prepositions are, what they mean, and how you can use them.

Spanish Prepositions

The word “preposition” may sound quite intimidating, but fear it not! It is just a term people use for words that connect two elements of a sentence. Let’s connect the words “casa” (house) and “oro” (gold) and let’s see how a preposition establishes a relationship between these two words.

  • casa de oro (house of gold)

Unlike most words in Spanish, Spanish prepositions don’t change. What a relief! Spanish prepositions have no number or gender. That means that they are not singular, plural, feminine or masculine. No, you don’t have to worry about any of that.

  • anillos de oro (rings of gold)

Currently RAE, the official institution that oversees the Spanish language, only identifies 23 prepositions in Spanish, and two of them are no longer used. Let’s learn about them.

Most Used Spanish Prepositions

Though you will only find 23 prepositions in Spanish, the Spanish language has something called “locuciones preposicionales”. Many linguists translate this Spanish term into English as “compound prepositions”. They are groups of words that function as prepositions.

Below you will find a list of simple and compound prepositions in Spanish. Oh! And to help you sound like a native Spanish speaker, we included a list of idiomatic expressions with Spanish prepositions. We’ll tell you more about them later on.

List of Simple Spanish Prepositions

The following list of simple prepositions in Spanish is ordered by frequency of use. The most used Spanish prepositions appear at the top of the list.

1. de

Meaning

of, from, about

Usage

“De” is the most used preposition in Spanish according to a Spanish corpus created by the linguist Mark Davies.  This preposition is commonly used to express possession, nationality, subject, and cause. It can even be used to express what something is made of or the time in which something happened.

Examples

  • Esa es la casa de mi madre. (That’s my mother’s house.)
  • Soy de México. (I am from Mexico.)
  • No sé nada de ella. (I know nothing about her.)
  • Murió de desnutrición. (He died of malnutrition.)
  • Mira mi vestido de seda. (Look at my silk dress!)
  • Estudio de noche. (I study at night.)

Important: When the preposition “de” appears before the definite article “el”, it becomes “del”.

  • Soy de el Reino Unido. (incorrect)
  • Soy del Reino Unido. (correct)

2. a

Meaning

to, at

Usage

“To” or “at” in Spanish is “a. It is used when the direct object of a verb is an animal or a person or something personified. We also use “a” to introduce an indirect object, to express time, to give an order, to indicate manner and motion.

Examples

  • Busco a mi padre. (I am looking for my father.)
  • Escribe una carta a tu madre. (Write a letter to your mother.)
  • Nos vemos a las 6:00 pm. (See you at 6:00 pm.)
  • ¡A comer! (Go eat!)
  • Llegué allí a pie. (I got there on foot.)
  • Voy a Paris. (I am going to Paris.)

Important: When the preposition “a” appears before the definite article “el”, it becomes “al”.

  • Voy a el parque. (incorrect)
  • Voy al parque. (correct)

3. en

Meaning

in, on, at

Usage

“En” can be used to mean “in”, “on”, or “at” in Spanish, and it is used to indicate location and time. It is also used to indicate how people get to other places.

Examples

  • en navidad (at Christmas)
  • en octubre (in October)
  • en verano (in summer)
  • en 1990 (in 1990)
  • en la cocina (in the kitchen)
  • en el piso (on the floor)
  • en un coche (in a car)
  • en la puerta (at the door)
  • en tren (by train)
  • en carro (by car)
  • en avión (by plane)

Important: “En” is not used with specific hours or days of the week.

  • at 3:00 pm (a las 3:00 pm)
  • on Monday (el lunes)

4. por

Meaning

for (only when it appears before a period of time), because of, by

Usage

“Por” is used to express time, cause and gratitude. It can mean “for”, “because of”, or “by” in Spanish, and it is also used in multiplications.

Examples

  • Viajaré por varias semanas. (I will travel for several weeks.)
  • Está triste por ti. (He is sad because of you.)
  • ¡Gracias por tu tiempo! (Thanks for your time!)
  • dos por dos (two by two)

5. con

Meaning

with

Usage

“with” or “con” in Spanish can be used to indicate the instrument utilized to perform an action.

Examples

  • Escribe con este lápiz. (Write it down with this pencil.)
  • Quiero café con leche. (I want coffee with a dash of milk.)

6. para

Meaning

for, to

Usage

Para” is used to establish deadlines and to indicate purpose and destination.

Examples

  • Necesito el reporte para el viernes. (I need the report by Friday.)
  • Estudio para tener buenas notas. (I study hard to get good grades.)
  • El regalo es para ti. (The gift is for you.)

7. sin

Meaning

without

Usage

“Without” or “sin” in Spanish expresses lack of something.

Examples

  • No puedo vivir sin ti. (I can’t live without you.)

8. sobre

Meaning

on, about, regarding

Usage

Sobre” is used to indicate location. It also means “about”.

Examples

  • Las flores están sobre la mesa. (The flowers are on the table.)
  • Tengo preguntas sobre la clase. (I have questions about the class.)

9. hasta

Meaning

up to, until

Usage

Hasta” denotes limit.

Examples

  • Puedo contar hasta 100 en español. (I can count up to 100 in Spanish.)
  • El bus no saldrá hasta las 9:00 am. (The bus won’t leave until 9:00 am.)

Important: In Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, “hasta” also means “at”.

El tren saldrá hasta las 12:00 pm. (The train will leave at 12:00 pm.)


10. entre

Meaning

between, among, amid

Usage

Entre” is used to express that someone or something is between, among or amid things.

Examples

  • Hay un espacio entre la pared y la silla. (There is a space between the wall and the chair.)
  • Hablaron del proyecto, entre otras cosas. (They talked about the project, among other things.)
  • El hombre está entre las ovejas. (The man is amid the sheep.)

11. desde

Meaning

from, since

Usage

Desde” denotes a point in time or place, and can mean “from” or “since” in Spanish.

Examples

  • Vivo aquí desde 1990. (I live here since 1990.)
  • ¡Saludos desde España! (Greetings from Spain!)

12. hacia

Meaning

toward

Usage

“Toward” or “hacia” in Spanish is used to express a sense of movement.

Examples

  • Ve hacia las montañas. (Go toward the mountains.)

13. contra

Meaning

against

Usage

“Against” or “contra” in Spanish is used to express opposition.

Examples

  • No tengo nada contra ti. (I have nothing against you.)

14. bajo

Meaning

under

Usage

Bajo” expresses dependence or subordination, and means “under” in Spanish.

Examples

  • El niño está bajo mi cuidado. (The child is under my care.)

15. ante

Meaning

before

Usage

Ante” means in the presence of.

Examples

  • Ella estaba parada ante el juez. (She was standing before the judge.)

16. según

Meaning

according to

Usage

Según” is used to express the opinion of others. It can be used before names and pronouns, and means “according to” in Spanish.

Examples

  • Según Carlos, Ana miente. (According to Carlos, Ana lies. )
  • Según los críticos, la película es mala. (According to the critics, the movie is bad.)

17. tras

Meaning

after, behind

Usage

Tras” is used express time and place, and can mean “after” or “behind” in Spanish. When it expresses time, it means that something happened after something else. When it expresses place, it means “behind”.

Examples

  • Llegamos a un acuerdo tras una discusión. (We got to an agreement after a discussion.)
  • El perro está tras la puerta. (The dog is behind the door.)

18. mediante

Meaning

through

Usage

Mediante” means through in Spanish.

Examples

  • La entrevista será mediante una llamada. (The interview will be through a phone call.)

19. durante

Meaning

during

Usage

“During” is “durante” in Spanish. It expresses simultaneity.

Examples

  • Escuché música durante el viaje. (I listened to music during the trip.)

20. versus

Meaning

versus

Usage

“Versus” is used to express opposition.

Examples

  • El partido de hoy es Francia versus Alemania. (Today’s match is France versus Germany.)

21. vía

Meaning

through

Usage

“Vía” is used to express how something will be sent or received. It is also used to express the places in which a plane stopped.

Examples

  • Te enviaré la carta vía correo electrónico. (I’ll send the letter through an email.)
  • Vine vía Canadá. (I stopped in Canada.)

22. cabe (no longer used in modern Spanish)

The preposition “cabe” was used in poetic language, and it means “close to” or “next to”.


23. so (no longer used in modern Spanish)

This preposition “so” was part of the prepositional phrase “so pena de”, which means “under the threat of”.


List of Compound Spanish Prepositions

The items in the following list appear at no specific order. All of them are compound prepositions of place.

1. delante de

Meaning

in front of, before

Usage

“Delante de” means in the sight of or in the presence of.

Examples

  • Compórtate bien delante de la gente. (Behave well in front of people.)

2. detrás de

Meaning

behind

Usage

“Detrás de” is used to express that something is behind or after something else in Spanish.

Examples

  • El gato está detrás de la pelota. (The cat is behind the ball.)

3. encima de

Meaning

on, above

Usage

“Encima de” is used to indicate that something is on top of something else and means “on” or “above” in Spanish.

Examples

  • El libro está encima de la cama. (The book is on the bed.)
  • Escribe encima de la línea. (Write above the line.)

4. enfrente de

Meaning

in front of

Usage

“Enfrente de” means “in front of” in Spanish and is used to express that something is opposite something else.

Examples

  • Siéntate enfrente de mí. (Sit in front of me.)

Phrases with Spanish Prepositions

If you want to surprise your friends and sound like a native Spanish speaker, use the following expressions in front of them.

1. en broma

If you say something “en broma”, you say it as a joke.

  • ¡Te lo dije en broma! No te molestes conmigo. (I said it as a joke! Don’t get mad at me.)

2. en vivo

If you see something “en vivo”, you see it live.

¿Quieres ver el partido de fútbol conmigo? Está en vivo. (Do you want to watch the soccer game with me? It’s live.


3. en serio

If you say something “en serio”, you are serious about it.

  • ¡No te rías de mí! Te lo digo en serio. (Don’t laugh at me! I am serious.)

Spanish Prepositions: Practice

Do you remember the Spanish prepositions we’ve discussed? Quiz yourself by choosing the correct preposition for each of the following statements.


One Last Tip

Learning Spanish prepositions is easier than you think. Think of them as vocabulary you need to learn. Instead of learning isolated words, study them in context. Clozemaster can help you with that – check it out!

 

4 thoughts on “Spanish Prepositions: The Definitive Guide”

  1. I didn’t know you guys had this blog!
    This is so useful, having the explanations and the clozemaster exercise right after them to test, thank you a lot! Great resource.

  2. Pingback: 100+ Spanish Transition Words to Sound Like a Native Speaker

  3. Pingback: Difference Between Ser and Estar in Spanish: A Simple Guide

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