Prepositions

Introduction

Prepositions are small words that are generally used with a noun or pronoun. They show what relationship other words have to each other.

Spanish has basic prepositions (e.g. a, con) and prepositional expressions (e.g. después de, cerca de).

Example:
Pedro ha ido a la panadería.Pedro has gone to the bakery.
Ella vive cerca de Málaga.She lives near Málaga.

Unfortunately, prepositions often can’t be translated 1:1. The only solution is to check a dictionary, read a lot of Spanish, and learn prepositional phrases by heart.

Beispiel

Sergio ha trabajado hoy de 8 a 16 horas. Después del trabajo, se ha ido a casa.

Delante de la puerta, se ha dado cuenta de que se había olvidado las llaves en el trabajo. Para poder entrar dentro de la casa, ha tenido que buscar la copia de las llaves que está escondida debajo de la maceta encima de la puerta detrás de la casa.

¡Menos mal que las llaves estaban allí! Así, Sergio ha podido entrar a su casa.

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List of important Spanish prepositions and expressions

In the following tables we’ve collected some information about the most important Spanish prepositions and prepositional expressions.

Prepositions and Expressions – Time

SpanishEnglishusageexample
a at for times a las 8 horasat 8 o’clock
to in from … to … de lunes a juevesfrom Monday to Thursday
antes de before before a certain time antes de las 8 horasbefore 8 o’clock
antes del cursobefore the course
de from in from … to … de 8 a 9from 8 to 9 o’clock
de lunes a juevesfrom Monday to Thursday
dentro de in after a certain amount of time dentro de una horain an hour
desde since/ as of/ starting at starting at a certain point in time desde 1980since 1980
desde las 8 horasstarting at/since 8 o’clock
desde hace for for a certain period of time from the past until now desde hace 2 añosfor 2 years
después de after after a certain point in time después de las 8after 8 o’clock
después del cursoafter the course
durante during, for to indicate a length of time durante las vacacionesduring the holidays
durante tres díasfor three days
en

in months en febreroin February
seasons en veranoin the summer
years en 2008in 2008
hace ago a certain time in the past Hace ocho años que dejé de fumar. Eight years ago I stopped smoking.
hasta by, until by/until a certain point in time hasta febreroby/until February
por in, at general time of day por la mañana, por la nochein the morning, in the evening/at night
sobre around, about general times sobre las 10 horasaround 10 o’clock
tras nach after a certain point in time tras el inviernoafter the winter

Prepositions and Expressions – Place (Position and Direction)

SpanishEnglishusageexample
a to direction (building, city, country) – where to? a la bibliotecato the library
a Madridto Madrid
a Brasilto Brazil
a casa de to to a person’s house ir a casa de mis padresto go to my parents’ house
a la derecha de right of … on a side (right) a la derecha del cocheto the right side of the car
a la izquierda de left of … on a side (left) a la izquierda del cocheto the left side of the car
al lado de next to next to something Juan está al lado del coche.Juan is standing next to the car.
near geographically close to something Vivo al lado de la estación.I live near the station.
alrededor de around around something alrededor de la casaaround the house
a través de through/across to get to the other side a través de la puertathrough the door
a través de Españathrough/across Spain
cerca de near geographically close to something Vivo cerca de la estación.I live near the station.
contra against against something contra la pared against the wall
de from from a place (where from?) Vengo de Andalucía.I come from Andalusia.
debajo de under directly under something debajo de la mesaunder the table
delante de in front of in front of something delante del árbol in front of the tree
detrás de behind behind something detrás de la casabehind the house
en in room, building, street, city, country (where?) en la ciudadin the city
book, newspaper, etc. en el libroin the book
means of transportation (position) Me gusta leer en el tren.I like to read in the train.
on directly on something sentarse en la silla to sit oneself down in a chair
en casa de at at a person’s house estoy en casa de PabloI’m at Pablo’s (house)
encima de on directly on something encima de la mesaon the table
enfrente de across from directly across from something Él vive enfrente de mi casa.He lives across from me.
entre between between two or more things Andorra está entre Francia y España.Andorra is between France and Spain.
fuera de outside (of) outside of something fuera de la casaoutside (of) the house
hacia towards in the direction of something (but not all the way there) Ve hacia el norte.Go north/northwards.
junto a near, next to, by next to/close to something junto a la entradaby/next to the entrance
lejos de far (away) from geographical distance Vivo lejos de la estación.I live far (away) from the station.
por through, by way, direction Tienes que entrar por la puerta.You have to come in through/by the door.
sobre over, above directly over/above something sobre la cabezaover one’s head
on directly on something sobre la mesaon the table
tras behind behind something tras la puerta behind the door

Other important prepositions and prepositional expressions

SpanishEnglishusageexample
a by, on, with means, instrument/tool hecho a mano, escribir a máquina made by hand, typing on a typewriter
to travel by foot, on horseback ir a pie, a caballoto go by foot, to ride
(indirect object) indirect recipient of an action (when it could be replaced with to + object) Le di el libro a mi hermana.I gave my sister the book. (I gave the book to my sister.)
(direct object: people) direct recipient of an action, but only when it’s a person He visto a Clara. I saw Clara.
a favor de be in favor of be in favor of somebody/something Estoy a favor de elegir un nuevo delegado de clase.I'm in favor of voting for a new class captain.
with with the wind/current El barco está a favor del viento.The boat is sailling with the wind.
a pesar de despite despite something a pesar del mal tiempodespite the bad weather
con with with someone con su perro, con Juanwith his dog, with Juan
in a certain way con alegríawith pleasure
de of corresponds to the genitive: possession/belonging una página del libroa page of the book
by the creator, author, etc. un libro de Gabriel García Márqueza book by Gabriel García Márquez
from the giver is mentioned un regalo de Juliaa gift from Julia
made of material un jersey de algodóna jumper made of cotton
en by, in the means of transportation en coche, en tren, en avión, en motoby/in the car, train, airplane, motorbike
en contra de against refusing/declining something estar en contra de una ideato be against an idea
excepto/salvo except exception Todos han venido excepto Hugo.Everyone except Hugo came.
gracias a thanks to help of something or someone Gracias a Carmen, terminé más rápido.Thanks to Carmen, I got done earlier.
Gracias a mi ordenador, terminé más rápido.Thanks to my computer, I got done earlier.
incluso even additional information or something unexpected Incluso Hugo ha venido.Even Hugo has come.
por by by means of something por correo electrónicoby e-mail
by the thing or person that performed an action is named in a passive construction El piso fue alquilado por una familia.The flat has been rented by a family.
per, a distribution/allocation tres veces por semanathree times a week/three times per week
for reason for something fue detenido por roboHe was arrested for robbery.
para for, in order to the recipient or addressee is named un regalo para mi padrea gift for my father
según

according to

referencing someone or something según el periódicoaccording to the newspaper
sin without lacking objects or people sin mis maletaswithout my luggage
sin mi hermanowithout my brother
sobre about, on referring to a subject/topic un artículo sobre la pobrezaan article on/about poverty

Exceptions

The prepositions a and de

The prepositions a and de are combined with the article el to make one word.

preposition + articleexample
a + el = al yo voy al cineI’m going to the cinema
de + el = del el perro del vecinothe dog of the neighbour (the neighbour’s dog)