Spanish Language Basics: Prepositions

Today we are going a bit back to the basics, and talk about Spanish Prepositions.  Prepositions are words that relate a noun or pronouns to some other word in the sentence.

Prepositions are an essential building block of a proper sentence, and are used in every Spanish conversation.  While they are relatively easy to learn, I think it is good practice to once in a while review to make sure that your understanding and memory of them are clear

For example:

  • Yo voy a la tienda.I’m going to the store.
  • Ella estudia con George.She studies with George.
  • Trabajo en la biblioteca.I work in the library.

Image

Now let’s look at one by one these prepositions:

USES OF THE PREPOSITIONS “a”

1)    The preposition a is used to indicate destination or direction.

For example:

  • Vamos a la fiesta.We’re going to the party.
  • Llegaremos temprano a la escuela. – We will arrive at school early.
  • El café está a la derecha.The cafe is to the right.

Note:

a)    The preposition “a” (to) combines with el (the) to form the contraction al (to the).

For example:

  • María va al mercado.María goes to the market.
  • El profesor habla al alumno.The teacher speaks to the student.

b)    The preposition “a” never combines with the other articles (la, los, las) to form a single word.

For example:

  • Rosa va a la tienda.Rosa goes to the store.
  • El profesor habla a los estudiantes.The teacher speaks to the students.

c)    In some expressions, “a” plus the definite article is used where there’s no equivalent in English.

For example:

  • Juegan al béisbol.They play baseball.

2)    The preposition “a” is required before the direct object of a verb if the direct object is a person, a personalized group, a pet, or something personified.

For example:

  • Ana visit a a Peter.Ana visits Peter.
  • El niño ve al hombre.The boy sees the man.
  • Pablo invita a sus amigos.Pablo invites his friends.
  • Lola saca al perro.Lola takes out the dog.

BUT

  • Ana visita la escuela.Ana visits the school.
  • El niño ve la pelota.- The boy sees the ball.

3)    The preposition “a” is required before the pronouns ¿quién?, ¿quiénes?, nadie and alguien, when they refer to a person.

For example:

  • No conoce a nadie.He doesn’t know anyone.
  • Vio a alguien en la calle.He saw someone in the street.
  • ¿A quién defendemos?Whom do we defend?

NOTE:

  1. a.    When used before a direct object, the preposition “a” (personal a) has no equivalent in English. When used before an indirect object, it is translate as “to”.

For example:

  • Veo a mi prima. I see my cousin.
  • Hablo a mi prima. I speak to my cousin.
  1. b.    The personal “a” is not ised after the verb tener (to have).

For example:

  • Tiene una hermana bonita.He has a pretty sister.
  • Tengo muchos amigos.I have many friends.

USES OF THE PREPOSITIONS “de”

1)    The preposition “de” corresponds to of, from, or about in English.

For example:

  • ¿De qué hablas?What are you speaking about?
  • Hablo de la fiesta.I’m speaking about the party.
  • Recibo cartas de Juan todo los días. – I receive letters from Juan every day.
  • Sacan fotos de los niños.They take photos of the children.

NOTE:

  1. a.    The preposition “de” (of, from) combines with el (the) to form “del” (of the, from the, about).

For example:

  • El Sr. Juárez es el presidente del país.Mr. Juárez is the president of the country.
  • Ángela recibe dinero del jefe.Ángela receives money from the boss.
  1. b.    The preposition “de” never combines with the other articles (la, los, las) to form a single word.

For example:

  • ¿Recibes tú cartas de las muchachas?Do you receive letters from the girls?

2)    In Spanish, possession is expressed as follows: noun (thing possessed) followed by “de” plus noun (possessor). This is equivalent to the English possessive expressed with “of”. In Spanish, there is no apostrophe to show possession.

For example:

  • El libro de José.The book of José. / José’s book.
  • La cámara de la chica.The camera of the girl. / The girl’s camera.
  • Los lápices de los estudiantes.The pencils of the students. / The student’s pencils.

3)    ¿De quién?, ¿De quiénes? (Whose?) Are used to ask to whom something belongs.

For example:

  • ¿De quién son los lapiceros?Whose (sing.) pens are they?
  • ¿De quiénes son las fotos?To whom (pl.) do the photos belong?

4)    A “de” phrase may also function as an adjective.

For example:

  • La clase de biología.The biology class.
  • Un reloj de oro.A gold watch.

5)    “De” is also used together with other prepositions to indicate location.

For example:

  • El jardín está detrás de la casa. The garden is behind the house.
  • Las flores están dentro del florero.The flowers are in the vase.

USES OF THE PREPOSITION “en”

1)    The preposition “en” corresponds to in, at, on or into in English.

For example:

  • Estoy en mi casa.I am in my house.
  • Está en la escuela.He’s at school.

2)    The preposition “en” is used to express location (place).

For example:

  • La comida está en la bolsa.The food is in the bag.
  • Mi libro está en la mesa.My book is on the table.

3)    Express general idea in time.

For example:

  • Ella vendrá en enero a visitarme.She’s coming to visit in January.
  • Estaré en casa en treinta minutos.I’ll be home in thirty minutes.

4)    Express way or method of doing something.

For example:

  • Mi mama hizo el pollo en el horno.My mom did/cooked the chicken in the oven.
  • La maestra escribió en ingles la tarea.The teacher wrote the homework in English.

OTHER PREPOSITIONS

Sinwithout

Conwith

Contraagainst, facing, difficulty

Según – according to, depending on, (all) it depends

Trásafter, behind, in pursuit of, in search of, besides, in addition to

Desde – from

Haciatowards

Entre  – between

Quethat

photo credit: april-mo via photopin

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3 comments on “Spanish Language Basics: Prepositions

  1. Llegaremos temprano a la escuela. – We will arrive (Llegaremos is future not past)

    Las preposiciones españolas son:
    a, ante, bajo, cabe, con, contra, de, desde, en, entre, hacia, hasta, para, por, segun, sin, so, sobre, tras.

  2. Pingback: More about Spanish Prepositions | LetsGoSpanish

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