Spanish Vocabulary: Intro to Spanish Prepositions

Intro to Spanish Prepositions

It’s tough learning a new language, but have no fear — an easy lesson is here! Here, Spanish tutor Jason N. shows you how to use prepositions to connect words together and create simple sentences…

A Look at Prepositions in Spanish

Luckily, prepositions are pretty straightforward when it comes to learning to speak Spanish. Prepositions in Spanish are not too different from ones in English. Just like in English, prepositions connect words together and often focus on direction, place, or time. They usually precede the word or words they connect. There are simple prepositions, which are usually one word, and compound prepositions, which are typically multiple words. Here, I focus on simple ones.

Let’s go over the three most important prepositions:

  • a: meaning to, at in English
  • de: meaning of, from in English
  • en: meaning in, on, at in English

Prepositions in Spanish are mostly used the same way in Spanish as they are in English. Once you get comfortable with memorizing the vocabulary, it should feel like common sense, except for a few (almost all rules have exceptions).

Now let’s take a closer look at these three Spanish prepositions.

Prepositions in Spanish - a

The first preposition is a, which allows you to discuss topics such as movement, actions, and time. Below are some examples of the uses of a.

Movement or motion (to)

– Vamos a Atlanta el viernes (We go to Atlanta on Friday)
– Fuimos a San Francisco (We went to San Francisco)

Connect one verb to an infinitive (not translated directly)

– Voy a jugar (I’m going to play)
– Aprendí a escribir (I learned to write)

Show how to do something (on, by, with)

– Fue a pie (She went on foot)
– Lo hacen a mano (They do it by hand)
– Escribían a lápiz (They used to write with a pencil)

Introduce a person – the “personal a” in Spanish, which has no direct English translation

– ¿Conociste a Tim? (Did you meet Tim?)
– Observé a Michael Jordan (I observed Michael Jordan)

State the time (at, is)

– Cenamos a las seis (We eat dinner at six o’clock)
– Estamos a martes (It is Tuesday)

Prepositions in Spanish - de

The second proposition is de, which lets you say where something is from, how something compares, and descriptions of things. Below are some examples of the uses of de.

Demonstrate possession (of)

– Atlanta es la capital de Georgia (Atlanta is the capitol of Georgia)
– La clase de Jason (Jason’s class)

Address cause (from, with)

– Están cansados de manejar (They are tired from driving)
– Estamos contentos de nuestro hijo (We are happy with our son)

State the origin (from, of)

– Él es de México (He is from Mexico)
– Soy es el más inteligente de mi clase (I am the most intelligent of my class)

Describe a noun with another noun or infinitive (of)

– Una taza de café (A cup of coffee)
– El jugo de toronja (Grapefruit juice)

Compare (than)

– Sara es la más alta de todos los alumnos del sexto grado
(Sara is the tallest of all 6th grade students)
– Hay menos de cinco personas en la clase del profesor Angel
(There are less than five in professor Angel’s class).

Bonus: Learn more about Spanish comparisons here!

Idioms/phrases/sayings

De pie (Standing)
De ahora en adelante (From now on)

Prepositions in Spanish - en

The third proposition is en, which tells you where something is, how something is done, and when something occurs. Below are some examples of the uses of en.

Specify location (in, on, at)

– Están en mi casa (They are in my house)
Mira la pintura en la pared (Look at the painting on the wall)
Ellas están en la habitación (They are in the room)

Designate time (in)

Iban a Los Angeles en el otoño (They used to go to LA in the Fall)
Viene en una semana (She is coming in a week)

Show how to do something (on, by, with)

Vamos a Washington en avión (We go to Washington by plane)
Te vas al doctor en Uber (You go to the doctor in an Uber)

Idioms 

En serio (Seriously)
En broma (As a joke)
En vivo (Live)

There’s more where that came from! Here’s a handy Spanish prepositions list:

Spanish prepositions list

Final Note

If you’re comfortable with these already, try tackling Spanish transition words. There are a lot of prepositions at your disposal, but don’t let that scare you! A consistent schedule for practicing Spanish will help you improve at a steady rate. Sooner than later, these prepositions will be second nature in your vocabulary. Dedicate yourself to learning, but most importantly, have fun!

Need more Spanish preposition practice? Find a Spanish tutor near you!

JasonNPost Author: Jason N.
Jason N. tutors in English and Spanish in Athens, GA. He majored in Spanish at UC Davis, lived in Mexico for 3 years where he completed a Master’s degree in Counseling, and studied Spanish Literature and Psychology at the University of Costa Rica. He is currently attending the University of Georgia. Learn more about Jason here!  

 

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