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Prepositions are a vital part of a language and it's hard to build a sentence without them. In Spanish prepositions are easy to understand, since they are used the same way as in English, the only tricky part is how to use them, especially because one preposition in Spanish can mean many prepositions in English. Like the preposition "en" which means not only (in, on) but also (at, about, by, on top of, upon, inside of...) let’s first understand what a preposition is.

A preposition is a type of little word that is placed in front of an object usually a noun in order to indicate a relationship between that noun and the verb, adjective, or noun that follows and used to form a clause; the clause in turn functions as an adjective or adverb. The object also can be a pronoun or verb that functions as a noun. You will understand prepositions better when you go through the types and examples.

 

List of Spanish Prepositions

a (to, at)

en vez de (instead of)

al (upon)

en (in, at)

al lado de (beside)

encima de (above, on top)

ante (before)

enfrente de (in front of)

antes de (before)

entre (between, among)

bajo (under)

fuera de (outside)

cerca de (near)

hacia (towards)

como (like)

hasta (until)

con (with)

lejos de (far from)

contra (against)

menos (except)

de (from, of, about)

para (for)

debajo de (under, beneath)

por (for, on account of)

delante de (in front of)

salvo (except)

dentro de (inside)

según (according to)

desde (since)

sin (without)

después de (after)

sobre (about, above/on)

detrás de (behind)

tras (after)

 

These are some common prepositions used in a sentence to understand their meaning and the position they take better:

 

Examples of Spanish Prepositions

a (to, at)  : voy a Marruecos y las Islas canarias (I’m going to Morocco & Canaries Islands)

a personal: espero a mi hermano (I’m waiting for my brother) busca a alguien (I’m looking for someone)

al (upon)  : Al llegar a mi casa, voy a dormir  (Upon arriving home, I'll go to sleep)

al lado de (beside, by): Vivo al lado del río (I live by the lake)

antes de (before): bebo agua antes de dormir (I drink water before sleeping)

bajo (under): juega bajo la lluvia(he plays under the rain), busque bajo la mesa!(look under the table)

cerca de (near) : trabajo cerca del banco (I work near the bank)

como (like, as): dormir como un tronco (to sleep like a log), como postre tomo...( as a dessert I will take...)

con (with) : salgo con Maria (I’m going out with Maria), huevos con queso (eggs with cheese)

contra (against):  estoy contra la Guerra (I’m against war)

de (from, of, about): compré una mesa de mármol (I bought table made of marble)

debajo de (under, beneath): los hombres por debajo de los 30 años (men under 30 years old)

delante de (in front of): Delante de Dios (in front of God). Creo que Atlantis está delante de Gibraltar.

dentro de (inside): tengo sentimientos dentro de mí (I have feelings inside me)

desde (since): trabajo en la biblioteca desde 1998 (I work in the library since 1998)

después de (after): la vida después de la muerte (the life after death)

detrás de (behind): el campo de fútbol está detrás de la escuela (the football field is located behind the school)

en vez de (instead of): en vez de enfadarte, deberías perdonarlos (instead of getting mad, you should forgive them)

en (in, at) : estoy en cama ahora(I´m in bed now). Vivo en argentina (I live en argentina).

encima de (above, on top): las cartas están encima de la mesa (the letters are on the top of the table)

enfrente de (in front of): el hombre enfrente de mí es un héroe (the man in front of me is a hero)

entre (between, among): vive en la frontera entre los EE.UU y mexico (he lives at the border between the U.S & Mexico)

fuera de (outside): comes fuera de casa mucho( you eat outside the house a lot)

hacia (towards):  busco la carretera hacia Madrid (I'm looking for the road towards Madrid)

hasta (until): ayer trabajé hasta las diez (I worked until 10 o’clock yesterday)

lejos de (far from):  ¿está muy lejos de aquí? (is it far from here?)

para*(for): trabajo para Global7 (I work for Global7). para prendir un idioma es necesario praticar (to learn a language...)

por * (for, on account of): por eso no quiero hablar con él ( for this reason I don't want to talk to him)

según (according to): según la previsión del tiempo, brillará el sol todo el día  (according to the forecast,...)

sin (without): ¡eh! ¡cuánto tiempo sin verte! (hey, it´s be a while, literally: long time without seeing you)

sobre (about, on):colecciono todo sobre las monedas (I collect everything about coins),sobre la mesa(on the table)

 

Some prepositions rules:

Preposition + noun: Sin corazón (without heart). Sobre la mesa (on the table).

Preposition + pronoun: cómo yo (like me). para mí (for me).

Preposition + infinitive: para variar (just for a change). para empezar (first...)

Verb + preposition: trabajé hasta las ocho (I worked until 10). trabajo para la embajada (I work for the embassy)

Sometimes it's hard to pick which preposition to use in certain cases, that's why we're going to go through examples of prepositions that you may have hard time to chose, like (por and para), they both mean the same thing in English, but still in Spanish each one of them is used in a certain situation.

A: -connects a verb of motion + infinitive: voy a bailar (I'm gonig to dance) -joins any verb (except tener) + a person: busco a mi hijo (I'm looking for my son).

De: descriptively links two nouns: el héroe de la historia (the hero of the story) expresses possession: el perro de perdo (Pedro’s dog).

En (in, on): Estoy en Madrid. (I'm in Madrid). empeczo en 30 minutos. (I'll start in 30 minutes). la tarjeta en la mesa (the letter on the table).

Para vs Por: por is more common than para, so to make it easy, try to learn the rules of para and for the rest you can just use por. In most cases para refers to a goal or destination.

Para: (in order to + infinitivo): Para aprender, hay que practicar (in order to learn, we must practice). (For: for the benefit of, to be given to): eso es para tí (this is for you). (For: by (deadline): Hay que hacerlo para el jueves (it must be done by thursday). (for: towards, in the direction of): voy para la escuela (I'm going to school). (For: to be used for): una taza para café. (For: in one's opinion, compared to others): Para mí, no me gusta el jamón (I don´t like pork) (for: like to work for): Trabajo para Lingualogy Inc.

Por: (by, via, by means of):Viajé por tren.(I traveled by train) (through, along): Voy a NY por Washington DC ( I go to NY through DC). (Because of, due to): no lo hice por dinero (I didn´t do it for money). (During, in (time of day). estudio por la mañana. (For: in exchange for): Pagué 40 dólares por el libro. (For: for a period of time: estudié por 6 horas. (For: for the sake of, on behalf of) Lo hizo solo por ella (I only did it for her).

Por is also used in idiomatic expressions; here are the most common ones:

 

Spanish Idioms

¡por supuesto!

Of course!

¿por qué?

Why? For what reason?

día por día

Day by day

estar por

To be in the mood to

palabra por palabra

Word for word

por adelantado

In advance

por ahora

For now

por allí

Around there, that way

por amor de Dios

For the love of God

por aquí

Around here, this way

por casualidad

By chance

por ciento

Percent

por cierto

Certainly

por completo

Completely

por correo

By mail/post

por dentro

Inside

por desgracia

Unfortunately

por Dios

For heaven's sake

por ejemplo

For example

por eso

Therefore, that's why

por favor

Please

por fin

Finally

por la mañana, tarde

In the morning, afternoon

por la noche

At night

por las buenas o por las malas

Whether you like it or not

por lo común

Usually

por lo demás

Furthermore

por lo general

Generally, in general

por lo menos

At least

por lo mismo

For that very reason

por lo que a mí me toca

As far as I'm concerned

por lo tanto

Therefore

por lo visto

Apparently

por medio de

By means of

por mi parte

For my part

por motivo de

On account of

por ningún lado

Nowhere

por orden

In order

por otra parte

On the other hand

por poco

Almost

por primera/última vez

For the first/last time

por separado

Separately

por si acaso

Just in case

por su propio mano

By one's own hand

por suerte

Fortunately

por supuesto

Of course

por teléfono

On the phone, by phone

por todas partes

Everywhere

por todos lados

On all sides

por último

Finally

por un lado, por otro

On one hand, on the other hand

una vez por todas

Once and for all

Preposition para:

estar para

To be about to

para entonces

By that time

¿para qué?

Why? For what purpose? What for?

para siempre

Forever

para variar

Just for a change

 

Some Compound prepositions:

 

a causa de (because of, due to)

después de (alter)

a excepción de (with exception of)

detrás de (behind, in back of)

a fuerza de (by dint of)

en frente de (in front of)

a menos de (without (with infinitive)

en vez de (instead of)

a pesar de (in spite of)

en virtud de (by virtue of)

acerca de (concerning)

frente a (before, in front of)

además de (moreover)

fuera de (outside of)

adversamente a (adverse to)

junto a (next to, beside)

al través de (across from)

lejos de (far from)

alrededor de (around)

por causa de (by cause of, because)

antes de (before)

por parte de (on account of)

cerca de (close to)

por razón de (by reason of)

contrario a (contrary to)

relativamente a (relative to)

correspondiente a (corresponding to)

respeto a (with respect to)

debajo de (under, beneath)

sin embargo de (however)

delante de (in front of)

tocante a (about, concerning)

dentro de (in, inside of)

 

 

Summary:

 

A preposition is a type of little word that is placed in front of an object usually a noun in order to indicate a relationship between that noun and the verb, adjective, or noun that follows and used to form a clause; the clause in turn functions as an adjective or adverb. The object also can be a pronoun or verb that functions as a noun, this is a table showing the most common prepositions with their translation into English.

 

a (to, at)

en vez de (instead of)

al (upon)

en (in, at)

al lado de (beside)

encima de (above, on top)

ante (before)

enfrente de (in front of)

antes de (before)

entre (between, among)

bajo (under)

fuera de (outside)

cerca de (near)

hacia (towards)

como (like)

hasta (until)

con (with)

lejos de (far from)

contra (against)

menos (except)

de (from, of, about)

para (for)

debajo de (under, beneath)

por (for, on account of)

delante de (in front of)

salvo (except)

dentro de (inside)

según (according to)

desde (since)

sin (without)

después de (after)

sobre (about, above/on)

detrás de (behind)

tras (after)

 

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